Arsene Wenger came close to sign many young potential players for Arsenal in the late 1990s and the early 2000s. However, he failed to sign any of these players at the last moment. These young players went on to become the world’s best. Arsene Wenger came close to sign so many players that they would have made a very strong playing XI. Let’s take a look at the players that Arsenal almost signed when Arsene Wenger was in charge of the club.
Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon
The Juventus and Italian legend Gianluigi Buffon almost signed for Arsenal when he was only 20 years old. Back when he made his debut for Parma at just 18 years of age, he made his name straight away. He was one of the best keepers in Serie A already before joining Juventus in 2001. Prior to joining Juventus, Gianluigi Buffon was set to join Arsenal. Later in 2016 he even revealed that he had dinner with Arsene Wenger. However, Wenger failed to sign him and he made his move to Juventus. He later went on to win the World Cup for Italy in 2006 and is one of the best goalkeepers in the history of football. How good would he have been in the Arsenal’s squad if he had joined the London club?
Center Back: Gerard Pique
Another world-class center back that Arsenal failed to sign was Gerard Pique. When Arsenal signed Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona, they wanted to bring in Gerard Pique along with the Spanish midfielder. However, Gerard Pique failed to secure a work permit and the deal was off. He later went on to join Manchester United. Arsenal were very unlucky to have failed to sign Gerard Pique.
Center Back: Vincent Kompany
Vincent Kompany started his career at Anderlecht. At a very young age, he impressed big clubs. However, he made his move to the German club Hamburg in 2006 for just €10 million when he was just 20 years old. Later after spending a couple of years at Hamburg, he made his move to Manchester City. Arsene Wenger wanted him to replace Sol Campbell at Arsenal in 2006. However the Belgian turned down his move to London and even for the Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Center Back: Raphael Varane
Before joining Real Madrid, Raphael Varane was targeted by Arsene Wenger. He wanted him to bring him at Arsenal in 2011. Arsenal’s manager knew everything about Varane, his statistics, and even his agent. Arsene Wenger even made a bid for Varane. However, he failed to land the targeted amount. Raphael Varane at a very young age made his debut for Real Madrid and now he is a regular starter in one of the best clubs in the world. Had Varane joined the London club in 2011, he surely would have made Arsenal’s defense better.
Center Midfielder: Xabi Alonso
Amongst all the players, Xabi Alonso came closest to sign for Arsenal in 2008. Rafa Benitez wanted to sell the Spaniard as Gareth Barry was set to replace him at Liverpool. However, Gareth Barry’s move to Liverpool failed, and eventually, Xabi Alonso stayed at Liverpool. After spending another season at Liverpool he made his move to Real Madrid in 2009. A Xabi Alonso and Cesc Fabregas midfield at Arsenal would have been exciting to watch.
Center Midfielder: Yaya Toure
Arsenal came on close to sign Yaya Toure from the Belgian club Beveren when he was only 20 years old. However, the London club again failed to sign him because of the work permit issues. Yaya Toure was tired of waiting for the Gunners and eventually made his move to the Ukrainian club Metalurh Donetsk. He, later on, went to play for Barcelona and Manchester City where he became a club legend.
Right Midfielder: Eden Hazard
Before Paris Saint-Germain’s dominance in the French league Ligue 1, Lille OSC were one of the title contenders. In the season 2010/11, Eden Hazard helped Lille OSC to win their domestic league Ligue 1. Hazard also led them to Coupe de France’s victory in the same season. Eden Hazard had won two consecutive player of the season awards. Arsene Wenger wanted to bring him at Arsenal. He even invited Eden Hazard’s agent to his house to close the deal. However, financial restrictions prevented this deal and Hazards went on to sign their London rivals Chelsea.
Attacking Midfielder: Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi came close to joining Arsenal. He took a tour of Arsenal’s training ground along with Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas when he was 15 years old. However, Arsenal didn’t wanted to provide accommodation to Lionel Messi’s family at that time. Although, later Arsene Wenger said that Lionel Messi didn’t want to make his move to Arsenal as he wanted to stay in Barcelona. What a signing it would have been for Arsenal if he had joined the club.
Left Midfielder: Cristiano Ronaldo
Similar to Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo also took a tour at Arsenal’s training ground. Before joining Manchester United, Arsene Wenger offered Cristiano Ronaldo the Number 9 in Arsenal shirt. However, Sporting CP sold Ronaldo to Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson offered £12.24 million and the famous Number 7 and the deal was done. Cristiano Ronaldo became the most expensive teenager in English football history. Imagine Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi playing together at Arsenal.
Centre Forward: Luis Suarez
Luis Suarez was likely to leave Liverpool in 2013. Arsenal made their bid of £40,000,001 million. However, Liverpool refused to sell the Uruguayan international and he spent another year at Liverpool. He almost won the Premier League for the Merseyside club. Luis Suarez had a cracker of the season and later made his move to the Spanish club Barcelona where he even won the UEFA Champions League.
Centre Forward: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Before joining Ajax from Malmo in 2001, Zlatan Ibrahimovic came close to sign for Arsenal. Arsene Wenger wanted him to do a trial at Arsenal. However, Zlatan Ibrahimovic refused to do any trails as he didn’t have anything to prove. Later, he went on to sign for the Dutch club Ajax in 2001, where he scored 35 goals in 74 appearances for the club.
This is how Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal would have lined-up in the 2000s. How good this team would have been if Wenger was able to complete their signings for the club. How many years would have they dominated not only Premier League but also in the European competitions winning many trophies?