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Arsenal: The Superstar XI Wenger Nearly Signed

by Peter Wood
25 February 2013 22 Comments

He's signed a few bargains in his time, but here's 11 that the Arsenal manager let slip through his fingers...

If Arsene Wenger is good at anything, it’s unearthing gems for Arsenal. He loves nothing more than scouring Europe, working out who the best players are, ignoring them, only to head into the bargain bucket to unearth a player no one else had on their radar.

Arsene Wenger loves, and I mean LOVES, a bargain.

Here’s how negotiating with Arsenal works. Firstly, if Arsenal are talking to you, keep your damn mouth shut. It’s a secret. The reason for this? Price. If the price goes up, we’re not interested.

The second thing you need to understand is that Arsenal don’t compete with other clubs when it comes to signing players. If another club is alerted to a player we’re interested in and  1)  The player is over 21 2) The club is higher in the league than Barnsley… generally we’ll go elsewhere.

Finally, if you’re a Chairman and you send back a figure of over £15million as a price, we’re out. Forget about it. The stadium may have a 2013 feel about it but our idea of value still sits at roughly 1998 level. This has served us well though. I’m not totally against the idea of picking up thrifty deals. I’d rather our attitude than Liverpool’s… that’s not to say I don’t long for a bit more ambition. We’ve not won a trophy for 7 years. We’ve qualified for the Champions League the whole time, but some of us crave a little bit more. This post is here to show you the players we could have had that might have seen us with a slightly fuller trophy cabinet.

Joe Hart

I bet you thought I was going with Petr Cech? No way. Joe Hart is the man we ignored. Our keeping coach at the time ran the rule over Joe when he was at Shrewsbury Town. He determined he wasn’t good enough. Joe went to City. Had some fantastic loan spells before being chosen by Mancini as his number one. He’s now one of the best keepers in the world.

Vincent Kompany

Wenger, you knew about Kompany. I know you did. You were watching him. You thought he was good. He was in your price range. You ignored him. Why, oh why, did we let him go? He’d have been perfect!

Phil Jones

In January of last year, we had Phil Jones down at Colney, we were really interested in him, we could have snapped him up for about £10mill, but again, we dithered on price. A few months later, Fergie stepped in and took him instead. Big miss. Arguably, had we signed him in January, we could have competed for the league until the end of the season.


Last summer we were crying out for a decent left back. Clichy had gone, Kieran Gibbs was a million miles off being good enough. We had Enrique on offer for an embarrassingly low price. We passed because Wenger didn’t want to kill Gibbs career. Liverpool don’t have one. Which is nice, because they have an issue in almost every other position in their team.

Xabi Alonso

There’s plenty of rumour and counter rumour, but way back when Benitez was in charge of Liverpool, he kind of fell out with Alonso. He wanted Gareth Barry to take his team to the next level (seriously), but he had a problem. He had to sell someone. Word has it Arsenal bid for him, Alonso was heading down the motorway, Liverpool asked for more money… we said no. Liverpool’s move for Barry fell through. Alonso stayed and went the next year to Madrid. We stuck with Denilson. Oh my…

Javier Mascharano

A few seasons ago when Arsenal were heavily linked to Pepe Reina (we certainly bid for him), Gazidis also went in for the Argentinian enforcer. Wenger was interested in him before he went to West Ham but the legal issues around ownership prevented us from entering negotiations with us. We tried second time around, but England was not for Javier… he preferred the bench of Barca.

Yaya Toure

This one is probably the biggest miss of the lot. A few years back, when his brother was playing for us (Kolo), we had Yaya Toure over with us. He even played a game at Barnet. We moved for him, again had work permit issues and we let him float off to Olympiacos. He then moved to Monacao, then to Barca… cemented himself as one of the best… then moved to City where he was a big driver in their league win last year. We could have had him for about 50p! What a gut wrenching miss…

Cristiano Ronaldo

Now this one was irritating. We were in for Christiano at £4million. We nearly had a deal sorted. Then United played Sporting. He had an amazing game. The United players told Fergie to sign him. He decided to go in at £10million. Quieroz had a quiet word in his native language. We didn’t try and compete. The rest is goaltastic, successful history.

Juan Mata

This one is slightly fresher in memory. Last year, when all the Cesc Fabregas shennanigans were going of, we were in for the creative Spaniard. In the end, we dithered our way out of a deal and the Valencia midfielder ended up heading over to West London for a life of living in fear of John Terry stealing his glory moments and, possibly, his girlfriend.


This one is a classic. Zlatan, who despite never hugely impressing me has always won trophies, was available for transfer from his Swedish team. Wenger invited him over for a trial. Zlatan told him didn’t do trials, much in the same way Kate Moss would say no to a Primark store opening invite in Salford. He went to Ajax instead, then went on to have a pretty incredible career he’s still enjoying.

Wayne Rooney

This is a little known story, but word on the street (a very, very reliable street) that we had Wayne Rooney down at Colney checking out the facilities before his eventual move to United. Wenger has always been a fan of Wayne. What could have been eh?

So there we have it… the team we could have had. Maybe now the money is starting to roll in, we’ll start seeing a few less nearly signings and a few more actual signings.

Giroud and Podolski are a mighty fine start… forget about Robin, I never liked him anyway.

Here’s to a summer of turning those near misses in off the post!

Find Peter on Twitter: @legrove

If you liked this, check these out

Arsenal: After Cesc Fabregas Broke My Heart, Robin Van Persie Has Stamped On The Remains

Arsenal: Alan Dzagoev Is The Creative Option Wenger Needs

An Arsenal Fans Apology To Arsene Wenger

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image descriptionCOMMENTS

Adam 10:06 am, 10-Jul-2012

what an utter load of nonsense! firstly "We now have a major problem at left back." no we don't, after gibbs came back from injury he proved himself to be a very solid LB. The rest is all just hearsay and conjecture! The Kompany one isn't even a story, it's just your Pro Evolution Soccer scouting from 6 years ago. The only ones with any real substance are Toure, Ibrahimovic and Ronaldo. I for one am glad we didn't get Ibrahimovic, his attitude cost him the contract. He is a twat!

goonerkitt 10:24 am, 10-Jul-2012

Don't be a complete cock Adam. Everybody knows about the Kompany one and the only one of those I hadn't heard was the Rooney one. I know we had work permit trouble when we had a fee and personal terms agreed for Petr Cech and we were haevily linked with Modric for a while. Then there was the De Boers and a story about Michael Owen coming down for talks with Wenger. My favourite was Messi though. Wenger tried to get Messi at the same time as getting Fabregas and there were some at Barca who were willing to let him go due to his small stature.

feygooner 10:29 am, 10-Jul-2012

You must be fantastically well connected with the club, because you seem to have an in depth knowledge of all our negotiations and scouting.

Gun 10:30 am, 10-Jul-2012

You forgot that arsenal almost signed ronaldinho decade ago lol

Adam 12:39 pm, 10-Jul-2012

goonerkitt, what kompany one? there isn't even a rumour or a story in the article. just that wenger knew who he was, wenger knows who ricardo fuller is and i'm pretty sure he's in our price range... just because we are linked with players doesn't mean we are interested. we are linked with a million players every summer just in an attempt by agents to boost the profile of their players.

anon 1:11 pm, 10-Jul-2012

yea i don't buy the Rooney one, Newcastle has bid for him and he nearly completed that move and then United stepped in- apparently fergie had wanted to wait a season or too but moved quicker because of Newcastle. You really think Arsene would spend over £20million on a player? an English player!?

Herp Derpington 1:43 pm, 10-Jul-2012

Could have had Scott Parker for a mere £5m - strong in midfield, something Arsenal have been lacking. And when Hammers got relegated, he didnt want to leave London, So wenger let him go to the Spuds! Epic Plum

wes 3:09 pm, 10-Jul-2012

the kompany deal was we had agreed a 3mill fee with man city, but they got a couple injuries and couldnt find anyone to buy before their next match so played kompany and he impressed in that game so remained at city, just to clear that up to those asking what that was about

Neil 8:54 am, 11-Jul-2012

Fergie even said he nearly signed Joe Hart as well. When AW was watching Kompany he was playing as a DM not a CB. At this point no one kew he was going to turn out to be a great CB, he wasn't a world class DM at this point. Arsenal have a bid rejected for Phil Jones last summer. 16M I think. AW even said it in an interview, same thing happened with Chris Smalling. Arsenal were never after Enrique last summer. Alonso we could have signed if we paid an extra couple of million. Mascharano wanted Barcelona... AW said in an interview Toure was inpatient with his work permit and wanted to join FC Metalurh Donetsk. You can't blame AW for not signing Ronaldo he left London Colney twice wearing an Arsenal shirt, his mother even said sign for Arsenal because of AW. The player decided to join United. Mata we should have signed but Winterburn said the board wouldn't give AW the money to buy the player. As the Nasri and Fabregas deals were not complete at the time. Chelsea gave Mata a 5/6M signing on fee as well. Ibrahimovic who had a big attitude when he was young. AW should have done better with this one. The Rooney story could be complete rubbish. It's you're fake source. Blah blah LeMoan

M T cabinet 9:03 am, 11-Jul-2012

Some players given the choice have chosen Arsenal over other big clubs ie Ramsey instead of united. Chamakh instead of Liverpool. AOC instead of man utd. Gioud instead of Chelsea. So we can compete with big clubs on stature, And even wages

@mr_WDF 12:04 pm, 11-Jul-2012

@Adam Most Arsenal supporters I know knew that Wenger was interested in Kompany and we were watching/scouting him for AGES...

Tom Gooner 11:32 am, 12-Jul-2012

Ive been a gooner for over 50 years. Some of these possible player comments are way off the mark. Were we in the chase to sign Pele?????

Stephen 11:59 am, 12-Jul-2012

Great article, very interesting and quite a lot of these are true! We should have signed Gerard Piqué instead though, he was in loan at man utd and unwanted. We were linked with trevez, ba, benzema, m'villa, David villa, sneider, sweisgether and lahm too.

Tom 2:55 pm, 12-Jul-2012

Alot of fantasy in that! We did get the likes of Vieira, Henry, Pires, Toure, Lehmann when nobody else was looking. It's easy to say afterwards, after all Ronaldo could have flopped and turned into a street footballer who begged for cash in London, if he'd signed for us!

Gavinge 5:43 pm, 25-Feb-2013

United have a partnership with Sporting, nobody else was ever going to stand a chance of signing Ronaldo against them.

Mike 5:49 pm, 25-Feb-2013

Oh. Dear. What will you dig up next to try and criticise the club for. It's quite pathetic.

Cy_gooner 5:53 pm, 25-Feb-2013

Don't forget we were oh so close but so far away from signing Tim Cahill. A currently established Chelsea centre back who we could've done with. We apparently insulted Bolton with our offer (to be fair they wanted something stupid like 17m at the time). Also, we turned down Schwarzer for 1m cos he was too old to pay that amount of money for at the time...about 3-4 years ago. He's still going strong.

Sebastian 5:56 pm, 25-Feb-2013

None of these players compare to us nearly signing Maradona...

Oliver 6:18 pm, 25-Feb-2013

Sloppy article which draws all-too-easy conclusions, but had to pass comment on "Christiano" Ronaldo. Even if your facts are not all misplaced (I'm not a Gunners fan) your spelling of the second-best player of the current generation includes a letter erroneously. H, for hideous, perhaps?

anams 1:47 pm, 26-Feb-2013

oh dear........wt a perfect team it would have turned out to be.

akie 9:57 pm, 14-Apr-2013

do you forget messi? he was in the deal with fabregas but his passport stopped him making the move.

123 1:39 pm, 27-May-2013

phil jones and enrique superstars?wow

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