The 4 best players that Arsenal Missed Out On
It has almost become a tradition for Arsenal’s star players to look to move on to greener pastures. A few names easily spring to mind: Robin Van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy. These were all seen as Arsenal’s top players but left the club either for money, the pursuit of silverware or personal reasons.
The constant strain of having to rebuild his team has continually hampered Arsene Wenger’s hopes of adding to the seven major trophies he has won at the club. One could argue a team of all these ex-Arsenal stars would be a force to be reckoned with today.
As formidable as such a team would be, it pales in comparison to the team they could have formed had they not missed out on these players.
4. Yaya Toure
When you think about it, it’s not that surprising that the Ivory Coast international was heavily linked with Arsenal seeing as his older brother Kolo was part of the Arsenal ‘Invincible’ team of 2003/2004. While playing for Belgian side Beveren in 2003 he had a trial for Arsenal playing in a second striker role against Barnet. Wenger recognised his talent but could not work out his best position and even said his performance against Barnet was “completely average”.
Wenger was still set on signing Toure but delays on his work permit coming through eventually led to the Ivory Coast international signing for Metalurh Donetsk. After stints at a number of other clubs he would go onto Barcelona and Manchester City. Toure is the highest scoring midfielder in the league this year and has been the driving force behind the Citizens for the last four years.
3. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Given that Ibrahimovic is as well known for his club hopping (6 clubs in 12 years to be precise) as he is for his playing style, it is fair to say that any move to Arsenal wouldn’t have been for the long run. It is hard not to imagine what kind of impact the Swedish maestro would have had at Arsenal if a move had materialised.
In 2000, Wenger brought Ibrahimovic in for a trial and was willing to sign him after he impressed in training sessions. The stickler supposedly came when Zlatan wanted a squad number but Wenger wanted to see him in a training 11v11 match before he would put pen to paper. The way the story goes is that, before walking out, the Swede said:
“Zlatan doesn’t do auditions”
Ibrahimovic went on to play for nearly every major European team outside of England bar Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. If the story is true then Wenger can’t really be blamed for not acquiring Ibrahimovic’s services but it will always be seen as a ‘What If?’ moment for Arsenal.
2. Gareth Bale
When Arsenal signed Theo Walcott from Southampton in 2006, Wenger had the option to buy Bale as well but declined. Last year, in the aftermath of his brilliant season for Tottenham, Wenger spoke of the motives behind his decision not to sign Bale:
“We didn’t take [Gareth Bale] as we had Ashley Cole and Gael Clichy and didn’t want another left-back. I must confess it was a huge mistake as he can play in midfield.”
It must be hard for every Arsenal fan to know that two players now deemed as traitors to the Gunner’s faithful (Cole and Clichy moved on to Chelsea and City, respectfully) stood in the way of one of the best young talents in football coming to Arsenal. .Everyone knows what Bale has gone on to achieve since then, with the possibility of a treble in his debut season with Real Madrid edging closer and closer.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
It can be heavily argued that had Arsenal acquired the services of Crisitiano Ronaldo, they would not have endured a nine-year trophy drought. According to the latest Ballon d’Or award ceremony he is the best player in the world and he has been unstoppable for Real Madrid these last few years.
In November 2002, Wenger enquired about the player but found it increasingly difficult to meet with his representatives over the next few months as they were trying to keep Liverpool involved in the bidding war to increase Ronaldo’s value. In the pre-season of the 2003/2004 season he came to the attention of Alex Ferguson when Manchester United played Sporting Lisbon in a pre- season friendly and the rest is history.
This clip was technically not a goal as Nani robbed it on the line and it was deemed offside but it shows him making a fool out of the back four of the recent World Cup winners at the time, Spain.
If only Arsenal were successful in acquiring the unique (long term) services of these four star players. The starting 11 would be a thing of pure beauty.
Gavin Nolan, Pundit Arena.