By Nick Teale

Cesc Fabregas and Lionel Messi are regarded by many as two of the best footballers in the world. But it is easy to forget that they played in the same youth team together.

The pair were both stars of a free-scoring Barcelona youth side along with Gerard Pique, according to Fabregas' mother.

After hearing news of the Gunner's Champions League Quarter-Final draw Arsène Wenger was asked who was the better player - Fabregas or Messi.

It is a debate which could keep football fans talking for hours. But the Arsenal manager wasn’t sure if a comparison could be drawn, though he did recount the story Fabregas' mother told him of their impact on the Barcelona youth team at the time.

"I think they are completely different players," said Wenger.

"What is interesting is that they played together in the youth team. When I spoke with Fabregas’ mother when she brought him here at the age of 16, she said always when they came home they won 6, 7, 8, 9-0 because always they had in the same team, Piquet, Messi, Fabregas. You are not surprised."

The manager also accepted that it will be a special match for Fabregas to take on his former club, but says the Arsenal captain will only have his mind on one thing.

"There will certainly be some emotion there," said the Frenchman "But Fabregas is a winner, he wants first to qualify.

"I believe Cesc goes into every single game to win it – if it was Barcelona or someone else, he will just want to qualify."

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
19 Mar 2010