Arsene Wenger has made a habit out of ‘nearly’ signing players who have gone on to be extraordinary in the football world.
From nearly plucking Lionel Messi from the Barcelona academy to nearly securing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, though we all know “Zlatan doesn’t do auditions”.
Cristiano Ronaldo was very nearly a Gooner prior to his switch from Sporting to Manchester United in 2003. Whilst that same year Arsenal’s perennial tormentor Didier Drogba was nearly recruited before he joined Marseille – fittingly the Ivorian would come back to abuse, emasculate and be the scourge of the Arsenal defence year after year at Chelsea.
More recently ex-Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso revealed how he came close to arriving at The Emirates in 2009. Yet the Gunners failed to match Liverpool’s asking price by offering £3m short of the Reds’ £18m evaluation.
Take a look at FIVE more players since 2012 who we nearly got to witness in an Arsenal shirt…
The world’s most expensive player was nearly recruited by Arsene Wenger back in 2012. The 24 year-old struggled to make his mark in his first (and arguably in his second) stint at Old Trafford, but instead of opting for North London the Frenchman joined Italian giants Juventus.
Wenger wanted to bring in reinforcements for several Arsenal stars who had jumped ship in the past year including: Cesc Fabregas, Alex Song, Emmanuel Adebayor and Samir Nasri. However the then 19 year-old snubbed his French compatriot for the Serie A champions.
In the summer of 2013 Arsenal infamously offered Liverpool £40m plus £1 for Luis Suarez – the extra pound to trigger the Uruguayan’s release clause. Although the thinking behind the bid was logical, the Gunners were savagely mocked by the football world and even Liverpool owner John Henry.
Suarez, who at the time was one of the most controversial players around following an incident of biting, spectacular diving and racial abuse, then went on to have the season of his life.
Arsene Wenger recently revealed how the player wanted to join Arsenal, but the Reds instead offered him an improved contract and promised to sell him to a club abroad the following season.
The 28 year-old was in high demand last summer after a remarkable season with Borussia Dortmund earned him Bundesliga player of the year.
Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho went toe-to-toe for the star, but the Armenia international favoured a move to Old Trafford as he thought he’d have more first-team chances.
Mkhitaryan though has started just 10 times in the Premier League this season.
You would be forgiven for thinking Julian Draxler did actually sign for Arsenal. The German who was sought out whilst playing for Schalke back in 2013 rejected a move abroad and switched to Wolfsburg two years later – much to Arsenal fans’ disappointment.
Arsenal continued in the their stalkish pursuit of the 23 year-old and it finally appeared the Gunners were closing in on a deal last winter. However, Draxler once again snubbed Arsene Wenger’s side over a move to PSG in January.
Kante is the most recent revelation in top class players to slip through Wenger’s clutches. The France international was on Arsenal’s radar last summer but the Gunners were pipped by Chelsea.
It was reported that Kante himself believed he was to make the switch to The Emirates, though while Arsenal stalled on a deal, the Blues did not.
It’s a case of what might have been as the 25 year-old appears to be the key to Chelsea’s miraculous turn around this season.