Arsenal have offered N'Golo Kante a two-year deal to keep the World Cup winner in London beyond his current Chelsea deal.
The Gunners were actually in for the Frenchman, not just when he left Leicester City, but when he played in France. Arsene Wenger had a contact at Paris-based Suresnes, who touted the midfielder to the then-Arsenal boss.
"He played in a club in Paris," Wenger told SportBible. "One of my best friends is a director and he told me 'Please, I have a player who we know is unbelievable. Nobody wants him in France.' He took him in his car and travelled with him from club to club, and finally, a club from division three in France took N'Golo Kante."
"Right now the player would have offers from both Spain and England but as we have been anticipating, the player's only idea is to continue in London," the report says.
Ironically, it's likely that Kante could step into the midfield position of the player who was purchased in 2016 instead of him, Granit Xhaka.
The Swiss has enjoyed ups and downs in north London but turned into a reliable presence in the Gunners midfield as a No.8, getting forward to assist with attacks, despite previously being thought of as a defensive midfielder. Kante has had a similar trajectory at Stamford Bridge, beginning life as a defensive foil and developing his game to become more of an attacking threat over the years.
Despite the report from Spain, Kante's move to Arsenal is far from a done deal. Although the player is said to have accepted the proposal by the Gunners, Mikel Arteta may yet opt for another player in midfield over Kante – while Kante himself could yet turn the Gunners down for another club.
The 32-year-old is valued at €20 million by Transfermarkt.
More Arsenal stories
Arsenal are already being linked with a host of big names ahead of a summer back in the Champions League.
Mason Mount is an option in midfield, with Juventus star Dusan Vlahovic and Bayer Leverkusen's Moussa Diaby rumoured in the attack. Both Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins and Crystal Palace star Wilf Zaha are on the radar, too. Younger stars are interesting the Gunners, too: Vitor Roque might end up at the Emirates, while Flamengo's Matheus Franca is being watched.
Meanwhile, cult hero Mathieu Flamini has refused to rule out a move to buy Arsenal.
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Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.