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.
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.
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!
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.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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.
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
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