Arsene Wenger recently revealed he tried to sign Dortmund star Jadon Sancho. His comments have sent the footballing community into a feeling of Deja Vu. It’s safe to say fans may have lost count of the number of times we have heard him say this.
That Arsene Wenger failed to sign several players during his reign at Arsenal is well known. Financial constraints after the Emirates stadium was built saw them miss out on many promising players. Rivals took these players from under Arsenal’s nose and as a result, the Gunners suffered on the field with a long trophyless period.
Today we have a look at the world-class XI based on players the Frenchman missed out on:
The legendary Italian goalkeeper was approached by both Arsenal & Manchester United when he was at Parma. He had also revealed about having dinner with Arsene Wenger in 1998. Buffon eventually joined Juventus in 2001 where he had a glorious career.
The Belgian was one of the hottest prospects in world football and was being chased by both Real Madrid & Barcelona. He has also identified by Wenger as a potential replacement for Sol Campbell. However, the Frenchman was beaten to his signature by Hamburg.
Arsene Wenger signed Cesc Fabregas as a teenager from La Masia. He later revealed that he tried to sign Gerard Pique as well but the deal could not be completed. Pique later joined Manchester United and went on to win the Premier League & Champions League.
Raphael Varane was 18 when Arsenal looked to sign him in 2011. But he joined Real Madrid from Lens. Wenger later expressed his regret: “I’m happy for him because he’s carving out a role at one of the world’s best clubs.. yet you have to wonder why this player is not playing for us.”
The world’s best defensive midfielder also didn’t escape Arsene Wenger’s attention. Before he made it big at Leicester & then at Chelsea, Arsenal tried to sign him when he was playing in France. The Frenchman could have made a huge impact at the Emirates as they lack a player of his caliber in midfield.
Manchester United paid a world record transfer fee get Pogba back from Juventus. But not many know Wenger had the chance to sign him when he was leaving Manchester United as a youngster. Arsenal tried but Juventus were quick to see the deal over the line.
Arsenal was working on a deal to bring the Brazilian star from Gremio to north London in 2001. With the deal to bring the two-time World Player of the Year to the Premier League almost done, work permit issues scuppered the transfer and left Wenger bemoaning the rules.
Having been voted as Ligue 1’s best player at Lille, there was plenty of interest in signing Eden Hazard. The race for Belgian’s signature was contested by both Manchester clubs & Chelsea. However, Arsenal was also interested at some point but the financial requirement saw them lose out.
Some reported that a stumbling block as insignificant as accommodation for Messi’s family caused the deal to break down. Not in Wenger’s eyes. “I think in the end he was not so keen to move, It was not completely down to a flat in the end. It was down to the fact that Messi was comfortable at Barcelona.”
Ronaldo had a tour of Arsenal’s training ground in 2003, where he was impressed by Wenger’s approach and what the club could offer him. However, Arsenal failed to get the deal done with Manchester United assistant manager Carlos Queiroz using his Portuguese influence to help lure Ronaldo to Old Trafford.
Ibrahimovic was a teenager when he met Wenger to talk through a potential move to Arsenal, but things did not quite go to plan as Wenger only offered the Swedish striker a trial. He said in 2012, ” I waited for him to convince me that I should join Arsenal. But he didn’t even try. He never actually made me a serious offer.”
There are several others who could not make the team. Notable mentions would be Petr Cech, Claude Makelele, Xabi Alonso, Yaya Toure, Dmitri Payet, Gareth Bale, Luis Suarez & Didier Drogba.
Arsenal fans can only imagine what could have been if the club & Wenger had been sharp & resourceful. They will be hoping Unai Emery will not allow history to repeat itself, or it’s dark days ahead again for the gunners.