The failed signings that make up the ‘what could have been’ Arsenal XI

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We all have that teammate who constantly likes to remind us what a soccer player might have been like if it weren’t for his serious knee injury, or that it was national team politics that saw them narrowly lose a place in the Olympic Games in 2012.

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

Despite being one of the most respected coaches the Premier League has ever honored, Arsene Wenger is seriously about to receive 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 bold claims, the latest being that he could have signed the wonderful kid Kylian Mbappé during the forward’s time in Monaco, and that got us thinking; What kind of team could Arsenal have lined up if all these seeming offers came out?

We have chosen the best players that Wenger has claimed he came close to signing for the Gunners to create the latest ‘what could have been’ Arsenal XI.

Gianluigi Buffon is possibly the best goalkeeper of his generation
Gianluigi Buffon is possibly the best goalkeeper of his generation | Soccrates / Getty Images Images

Gianluigi Buffon (GK) – In fairness to Wenger, his search for Buffon is definitely not fabricated. The Italian closer confirmed that both Manchester United and Arsenal tried to acquire his services during his stint at Parma, only for him to later move to Juventus.

Raphael Varane (CB) – Discovering French gems became the cornerstone of Wenger’s tenure at Arsenal, and Varane came close to being added to the Gunners roster before moving from Lens to Real Madrid in 2011.

Gerard Piqué (CB) – Before joining Manchester United in 2004, Piqué spent seven years at the famous La Masia academy in Barcelona. Wenger claims that he tried to sign the Spaniard at the same time that he was bringing Cesc Fabregas to North London, along with another boy who turned out to be quite decent who we will speak to shortly.

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

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

Paul Pogba (CM) – A talented young Frenchman you say? All right, we believe you on this, Arsene. Pogba traded Manchester for Turin in 2012, but not before Wenger showed his interest in the midfielder.

Yaya Touré (AM) – Yet another player who would become a Manchester City hero. Having spent the first 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 Metalurh Donetsk.

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

Kylian Mbappé
Wenger says he was about to sign Mbappé for Arsenal | David Ramos / Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo (LW) – The world and its dog narrowly missed signing Ronaldo when he was young (or so they say). The Juventus player signed with Manchester United after impressing in a preseason friendly for Sporting CP, meaning Wenger’s pursuit by the Portuguese teenager was curtailed.

Kylian Mbappé (ST) – And now the latest addition to the XI. Wenger has claimed that he came close to signing Mbappé for free after his contract with Monaco expired, sadly he did not. It’s funny how he decided to remind everyone of this story right after breaking a hat-trick against Barcelona in the Champions League.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (ST) – Now this us definitely I know it’s true. Ibrahimovic was offered a tryout at Arsenal as a youngster, although the Swedish striker declined the offer after being insulted that he should prove himself.

Lionel Messi (RW) – Remember when we said that Wenger claims he tried to sign another Barcelona player along with Piqué and Fábregas? You knew it was going to be this man, right? Well, if you’re going to make transfer sagas, it doesn’t make sense to claim that you tried to sign Bruno N’Gotty. Go all out, Arsene, good for you.



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