Mbappe, Pique, Lemar, Pogba, Messi & More: The Arsenal Best XI Arsene Wenger Almost Signed
Have you ever imagined an Arsenal team boasting the likes of Messi, Pogba, Mbappe, Ronaldo, Pique, Kante? Well, it could have been a reality only if coach Wenger succeeded in his transfer deals.
Arsene Wenger has revealed Arsenal were close to signing Kylian Mbappe last year, but he is just one of many stars who could have been playing at Arsenal.
Wenger also admitted to trying to convince the France international to move to the Emirates Stadium this summer but Mbappe, who scored 26 goals last season as Monaco were crowned French champions, will spend this campaign on loan with PSG before completing a £165m permanent move next year.
The 18-year-old admitted on Wednesday that he did hold talks over a proposed move to the Gunners prior to his switch to PSG and Wenger feels Arsenal nearly pulled off yet another transfer coup.
The PSG forward was just one of a number of players Arsenal have missed out on during Wenger’s tenure in north London, with Monaco’s Thomas Lemar, who was also close to moving to north London this summer, Manchester United’s Paul Pogba, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo on the star-studded list of names who got away.
Here we take a look at the XI Wenger might have had…
1. Joe Hart
Wenger was first drawn to Hart’s talents following a loan spell the goalkeeper had with Birmingham during the 2009/10 season.
The Frenchman enquired about the England international’s availability but there was one slight problem, Hart’s parent club Manchester City.
"I remember when Hart played at Birmingham, I asked about him and they told me he is at Man City. I thought he would be the ‘keeper there. He has something that is needed for a goalkeeper to play at a big club and I am not surprised he made it as No 1." – Wenger in 2011.
2. Raphael Varane
Varane’s rise from Lens to Real Madrid has seen him make over 100 appearances for the Spanish giants and win 35 caps for France.
But Arsenal could have had the 23-year-old at their disposal had Wenger and his scouts acted faster when the player was plying his trade at Lens.
"I’m happy for him because he’s carving out a role at one of the world’s best clubs, which is remarkable. Yet at the same time, when you are in charge of a club like Arsenal, you have to wonder why this player is not playing for us. He was at Lens, and we might well have caught him there." – Wenger in 2013.
3. Gerard Pique
In the summer of 2003, Arsenal signed a 16-year-old Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona’s La Maisa academy, but it could have been even better for the Gunners. Pique, who starred in the same youth team as Fabregas, was also on Wenger’s radar but the Frenchman could not get the deal over the line.
A year later the central defender joined Manchester United and spent four years at Old Trafford before moving back to Barca.
"It was at a period where Fabregas came. We wanted to take Fabregas, Messi and Pique. It worked only for Fabregas." – Wenger in 2014.
4. Vincent Kompany
Before Manchester City signed the Belgium international in 2008, Kompany was one of the hottest prospects in European football.
Wanted by Barcelona and Real Madrid as a 20-year-old at Anderlecht, Kompany was also identified by Wenger as a potential replacement for Sol Campbell. However, the Frenchman was beaten to his signature by Hamburg.
"I had meetings with Emilio Butragueno at Real Madrid, the club leaders at Barcelona and by Arsene Wenger himself at Arsenal. But heading to an absolute top club immediately was not the right solution because Vincent is someone who feels alone in an environment where he is not properly valued. Vincent is not a third or fourth choice." – Kompany’s agent Jacques Lichtenstein in 2014.
5. Cristiano Ronaldo
Another Ballon d’Or winner that got away, 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.
"My biggest regret, I was so close to signing Cristiano Ronaldo, and not only did I not get him he signed for Manchester United, so that of course still hurts today." – Wenger in 2014.
6. Lionel Messi
Wenger tried to sign three players from Barcelona’s academy in 2003 but the Frenchman could not prise Lionel Messi away from the Nou Camp.
"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." – Wenger in 2014.
7. Paul Pogba
There was a massive scramble for Pogba’s signature last summer and it took a world record transfer fee for Manchester United to take from Juventus.
However, Arsenal could have landed the France international when he was preparing to leave Manchester United in 2012, but the Gunners were too slow out of the blocks and Pogba moved to Juventus.
"Things happened very quickly. We were interested in him. We tried to get him to come here. But he very quickly signed for Juventus." – Wenger in 2014
8. N’Golo Kante
After helping Leicester to their shock Premier League triumph in 2015/16, Kante is on course to help Chelsea win the title this season. However, things could have been very different for the France international – and for Arsenal – had Wenger brought Kante to the Emirates Stadium.
"I tried to sign Kante when he was in France and when he was at Leicester. We cannot explain everything – transfers are transfers – but it is quite obvious when you look at where he has gone.
"I believe Kante has had a huge impact. It’s no coincidence Chelsea are where they are and Leicester did what they did last season." – Wenger in 2017
9. Thomas Lemar
Arsenal were in talks to sign Lemar from Monaco all summer and, according to Sky Sports News, they had a £30m offer rejected by the French side in July.
With Alexis Sanchez seemingly on his way to Manchester City on Deadline Day, the Gunners launched a sensational £92m bid for Lemar but the deal could not be completed.
Wenger has since admitted the France international rejected a move to north London. "€100m (£92m) for Lemar? Yes all true, I wanted him. The player has chosen to stay at Monaco.
"I know we live in an era of transparency but at some stage, to respect everybody, you have to not talk too much about that. You have to respect what happens on the negotiation side."
10. Kylian Mbappe
Arsenal were consistently linked with a move for the France international this summer with reports suggesting the Gunners made a 100m euro bid for his services.
Wenger has now revealed he tried to tempt Mbappe, who moved to Paris Saint-Germain on loan on Deadline Day, to the Emirates, not only this summer, but last year as well with the Frenchman suggesting the 18-year-old was closer to moving to the Emirates Stadium last year.
"Well, I believe that we were on the case last year. He was close to joining us, maybe closer last year than this year because the competition was a bit smaller than it is today," Wenger says of French starlet and PSG new-boy Kylian Mbappe.
"I personally think for 90 per cent of the players their careers depend on where they choose to go. But for 10 per cent of players, they can choose where they want and they will make a great career.
"He is in the 10 per cent. He can close his eyes and chose "I’ll go here, I’ll go there" to Madrid, to Arsenal, to Manchester United and he’ll have a great career, he’s an exceptional footballer." – Wengerin 2017
11. Luis Suarez
Described as the biggest mistake of Wenger’s managerial career by Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher, Arsenal missed out on Suarez after bidding one pound over his £40m release clause.
The offer did not go down well with Liverpool and after speaking to club captain Steven Gerrard, Suarez, who was thought to be keen on a move to the Emirates Stadium, stayed at Anfield.
He almost fired Liverpool to the title in the following season before moving to Barcelona for £75m.
"I’m very happy with what I did. There again, the details will maybe come out one day – maybe not in my book, but somebody else’s book! I know only one side of the story, but we always had fair relations with Liverpool, we kept in touch over that period. It was not meant to be provocative at all – it could be interpreted like that, but it was not our purpose." – Wenger in 2013.
Have you ever imagined an Arsenal team boasting the likes of Messi, Pogba, Mbappe, Ronaldo, Pique, Kante? Well, it could have been a reality only if coach Wenger succeeded in his transfer deals. Arsene Wenger has revealed Arsenal were close to signing Kylian Mbappe last year, but...firstname.lastname@example.orgAdministratorA blogger #AMonpointTV is my brand and am onpoint #Thank You For ReadingAM onpoint TV | Information & Entertainment Platform