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Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and the stars Arsenal ALMOST signed under Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger had some brilliant players at Arsenal during his 22-year spell in north London, but according to the man himself, the list of stars to have pulled on the famous red shirt during his reign could have been far more impressive.

Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Kylian Mbappe were all transfer targets for the Frenchman, while this week he revealed that Cristiano Ronaldo ‘had the shirt’ before Manchester United swooped in to sign him from Sporting Lisbon in 2003.

The list of players the Gunners came close to signing is both star-studded and exhaustive, with Wenger admitting he has 50 transfer regrets and that ‘the history of a big club is full of missed great players.’

Here, Sportsmail runs down the huge names Wenger missed out on – and what he had to say about them.

Arsene Wenger has revealed plenty about his near-misses in the transfer market with Arsenal

GIANLUIGI BUFFON 

With Wenger on the hunt for a long-term David Seaman replacement, he enjoyed a meal out with legendary Italian goalkeeper Buffon while he was still playing for Parma.

However, Juventus came in quickly for Buffon, splashing out £32.6million on him back in 2001. 

He would go on to win a…