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The failed signings who make up Arsenal’s ‘what could have been’ XI

Summary

We’ve all got that one mate who constantly likes to remind us how they could’ve been a footy player if it wasn’t for their bad knee injury, or that it was selection politics that saw them narrowly miss out on […]

We’ve all got that one mate who constantly likes to remind us how they could’ve been a footy player if it wasn’t for their bad knee injury, or that it was selection politics that saw them narrowly miss out on a place at the 2012 Olympics.

You sit and nod, pretending to be interested when in the back of your mind you’re thinking ‘yeah, course you did’.

Despite being one of the most respected managers to have ever graced the Premier League, Arsene Wenger is seriously on the verge of receiving the same nod and smile treatment.

Wenger left Arsenal in 2018
Wenger left Arsenal in 2018 | Phil Cole/Getty Images

The Frenchman is no stranger to audacious claims, with his latest being that he could’ve signed wonderkid Kylian Mbappe during the forward’s time at Monaco, and that got us thinking; what sort of team could Arsenal have fielded if all these apparent bids came off?

We’ve picked out the best players Wenger has claimed he nearly signed for the Gunners to make up the ultimate ‘what could’ve been’ Arsenal XI.

Gianluigi Buffon is arguably the greatest goalkeeper of his generation
Gianluigi Buffon is arguably the greatest goalkeeper of his generation | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Gianluigi Buffon (GK) – In fairness to Wenger, his pursuit of Buffon definitely isn’t fabricated. The Italian shot-stopper confirmed that both Manchester United and Arsenal tried to acquire his services during his time at Parma, only for him to later move to Juventus.

Raphael Varane (CB) – Unearthing French gems became the cornerstone of Wenger’s Arsenal tenure, and Varane was very nearly added to the Gunners roster before he moved from Lens to Real Madrid in 2011.

Gerard Pique (CB) – Prior to joining Manchester United in 2004, Pique spent seven years in Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy. Wenger claims he tried to sign the Spaniard at the same time he brought Cesc Fabregas to north London, along with another lad who turned out to be pretty decent who we’ll come to shortly.

Vincent Kompany (CB) – The Manchester City legend was one of the hottest properties in Europe as a teenager, with Real Madrid and Manchester United just two of the clubs said to be courting him. Wenger met with Kompany to try and lure him to Arsenal, though his French charm failed on this occasion.

Crisitiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi
Just imagine these two on the same team | David Ramos/Getty Images

Paul Pogba (CM) – A talented French youngster you say? Alright, we believe you on this one, Arsene. Pogba swapped Manchester for Turin in 2012, but not before Wenger had lodged his interest in the midfielder.

Yaya Toure (AM) – Yet another player who would go on to become a Manchester City hero. Having spent the first few years of his senior career in Belgium with Beveren, Wenger claims that Toure agreed to sign for Arsenal, only for him to move to Ukrainian side Metalurh Donetsk instead.

N’Golo Kante (CM) – Missing out on a top player once must be frustrating, but missing out on them twice is just…well, Arsene Wenger. Arsenal twice courted Kante, though twice the Frenchman delivered his compatriot a custard pie, opting for Leicester and Chelsea respectively.

Kylian Mbappe
Wenger has claimed he nearly signed Mbappe for Arsenal | David Ramos/Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo (LW) – The world and his dog narrowly missed out on signing Ronaldo as a youngster (or so they claim). The Juventus man famously signed for Manchester United after impressing in a pre-season friendly for Sporting CP, meaning Wenger’s pursuit of the Portuguese teenager was curtailed.

Kylian Mbappe (ST) – And now for the latest addition to the XI. Wenger has claimed he very nearly signed Mbappe for free after his contract with Monaco expired, alas it wasn’t to be. Funny how he decided to remind everyone of this story just after he smashed a hat-trick past Barcelona in the Champions League.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (ST) – Now this one we definitely know to be true. Ibrahimovic was famously offered a trial at Arsenal as a youngster, though the Swedish forward rebuffed the offer having been insulted at the fact he should need to prove his worth.

Lionel Messi (RW) – Remember when we said Wenger claims he tried to sign another Barcelona player along with Pique and Fabregas? You just knew it was going to be this man, didn’t you? Well, if you’re going to fabricate transfer sagas there’s no point claiming you tried to sign Bruno N’Gotty. Go for broke, Arsene, good on you.


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