11 big-name players Arsene Wenger could have signed (but obviously didn't)

Sancho Arsene Wenger
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N'Golo Kante

Wenger claimed in February 2017 that he'd made two attempts to sign Kante before Chelsea laid their claws on him in summer 2016, following the Frenchman's sensational displays for title-winning Leicester. 

"I tried to sign Kante when he was in France and when he was at Leicester," said the Frenchman. "We can't 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."

Leicester signed Kante for around £5.5m from Caen. How hard did he try? 

Dimitri Payet

Ex-West Ham hero-turned-villain Payet was looked at "many times", but Wenger chose not to make a move for a "top talent" who had "periods of up and down".

To be fair, he had a point on this one.

Cristiano Ronaldo

The Frenchman says his biggest regret is failing to capture Ronaldo when he had the chance – not surprising given that he went on to win everything possible with both Manchester United and Real Madrid, blooming into a five-time Ballon d'Or winner amid the presence of Lionel Messi. 

"I showed him around and I gave him a shirt. It had his name on the back," Wenger said in 2008. "But in the end it was a question of the transfer fee between the two clubs."

Alex Ferguson and Manchester United wanted him more. "I spoke with Ronaldo and Jorge Mendes and he said we had to hurry because Arsenal and Real Madrid wanted to sign him," Fergie later recalled. "I told Ronaldo to join us. He explained he'd have to talk with his mother about it."

A chartered flight and reassurances about easing him into the first team did the job. 

Lionel Messi

If that wasn’t bad enough, Arsenal supposedly missed out on the other best player in the world, too. Cesc Fabregas joined the north Londoners from Barcelona in 2003, and Marca later claimed that Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique – part of the same fabled Generation '87 youth team – almost joined him.

“We were in discussions with Barcelona when we bought Fabregas, because Messi played [with him],” Wenger told beIN SPORTS this week. “You can realise sometimes what fantastic youth teams you had before when you're a club like Barcelona. In the same team: Messi, [Gerard] Pique and Fabregas.

“Pique and Fabregas came to England, Messi stayed in Spain. We were interested in him, but he was untouchable at the time.”

Didier Drogba

The man who always scored against Arsenal – 13 goals in 15 meetings with the Gunners, to be precise – could have been playing for them instead. Wenger expressed regret at missing out on the striker who won four Premier League titles and the Champions League with Chelsea.

"I missed him when he played in France at Le Mans – not even in the top league," the Arsenal chief later claimed. "I knew he was good player there and I missed him. And secondly because he hurt us so much in big games that all this pain would not have happened."

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