7 players Arsenal are glad they didn’t sign from Champions League winner to Chelsea flop

Arsenal’s pursuit of Champions League football has been built on the back of some impressive signings who have found a way to dovetail with the Gunners’ academy talents.

Aaron Ramsdale and Ben White were on the fringes of the England team at Euro 2020, but have shown their worth in north London, while White’s central defensive partner Gabriel has also been a big factor under Mikel Arteta. In fact, Arteta’s side might already be assured of a top four finish were it not for the injury sustained by another impressive signing, right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu.

No team or manager gets everything right in the market, but Arsenal have made some impressive pick-ups, not just under their current boss but also under long-serving former manager Arsene Wenger. What’s just as important, though, is ensuring you don’t dwell on those you miss out on.

Arsenal have missed out on a number of targets over the years, and some – such as Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic – have looked like frustrating near-misses. In other cases, including these seven players picked out by Mirror Football, their failures have been blessings in disguise.

Alvaro Morata

Back in 2016, with Alvaro Morata impressing at Juventus, reports in Italy suggested Arsenal were keen on the Spaniard. A £51m fee was mooted, but the move failed to materialise after Real Madrid exercised a buy-back option and decided that, actually, they wanted to use him in La Liga.

12 months later, a slightly bigger bid from Chelsea was enough to twist Los Blancos’ arm. Arsenal, meanwhile, spent the money burning a hole in their pocket on Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette and, a few months later, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund.

Lacazette hasn’t been the most prolific striker, while Aubameyang left in less than ideal circumstances. However, Chelsea didn’t even really get the good times out of Morata.

Who’s the one player you wish Arsenal had signed? Have your say in the comments section

Morata’s Chelsea spell was far from a success
AFP via Getty Images)

Lucas Silva

Arsenal have developed a knack for snapping up young talents and developing them into something truly special, with Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie just two examples. However, they might have had their work cut out with Lucas Silva.

The Cruzeiro star was in high demand in his early twenties, but Arsenal ended up missing out to Real Madrid after suggestions they could hijack the deal. However, after making eight La Liga appearances in the 2014-15 season – his first in Spain – his career stalled.

Now 28, the South American is still uncapped by his country after looking to be on the verge of a call-up before joining Madrid. He’s back playing in Brazil, with Gremio, while the money Arsenal saved would eventually go towards popular squad member Mohamed Elneny 12 months later.

James Rodriguez

There are times at which a move for James Rodriguez would have made sense for Arsenal. 2019 was not one of them.

The Colombian had cost Real Madrid £75m when he joined five years earlier but would have been available for much less after failing to turn a Bayern Munich loan into a permanent switch. However, with Mesut Ozil still part of the Gunners’ plans at the time, it’s hard to picture a scenario where both left-footed mavericks could have been accommodated.

After another miserable season in the Spanish capital, Rodriguez had a mini-renaissance at Everton. Still, the prospect of a £63m downpayment, as was suggested at the time, is truly eye-watering.

Rodriguez has had a tough few years
AFP via Getty Images)

Ousmane Dembele

On paper, Ousmane Dembele looked like the kind of deal which made sense for a post-Wenger Arsenal. A huge talent, capable of turning teenage promise into something even greater, and able to rebuild after a tough debut season with Barcelona.

Incoming manager Unai Emery was tipped to keep an eye on the Frenchman at the 2018 World Cup with a view to making an approach. However, a deal appeared to be contingent on Antoine Griezmann moving to Camp Nou – something which didn’t happen for another 12 months.

Dembele’s quality is plain to see, but his fitness is another matter. He’s yet to bring up 100 Barcelona games despite being in his fifth season at the club, and Arsenal have had enough injury misery in the past to not want to add to it.

Dembele’s Barcelona career has been hampered by injury
AFP via Getty Images)

Jano Ananidze

Georgian midfielder Ananidze was an Arsenal target during the Wenger era, though a move was never completed. And, according to Ananidze himself, this was due to some unorthodox behaviour from his club at the time.

“I recently found out that an offer came from Arsenal, but they didn’t even tell me about it,” the former Spartak Moscow man would later tell Championat. “But from those requests that are known, I will highlight Valencia, then they were a top team.

He’s another player whose career has been beset by injuries, with his last international appearance coming in 2019. The 29-year-old is now back in Georgia with Dinamo Tbilisi, who finished second in the top flight last season.

Ananidze is now playing his club football back in Georgia
Levan Verdzeuli/Getty Images)


After a breakout Premier League season, Michu was in high demand. 18 Premier League goals, and 22 in all competitions, meant the Swansea man had Arsenal – among others – sniffing around in 2013 just a year after joining the Welsh side for just £2m.

Instead, though, the former Rayo Vallecano man stayed put. The following season saw injuries bring him down to earth, and he would eventually retire altogether in 2017 at the age of 31.

While it wasn’t necessarily an either/or situation, Arsenal would still spent big both that summer and the next one. Ozil and Alexis Sanchez weren’t the worst pick-ups they’ve made.

Michu ended up retiring at the age of 31
Getty Images)

Mattia Destro

Italian striker Destro was pleased to be linked with Arsenal back in 2014, around the time the Gunners sought competition for the likes of Alexis, Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck. “Arsenal for me? The rumours are good, I’m happy for them. This is the proof that I’m doing my work well,” he was quoted as saying by Tuttosport.

When he left Roma in the upcoming window, it wasn’t to move to England. AC Milan came calling and, while the Rossoneri weren’t at their best, he took the opportunity to play under World Cup winning striker Pippo Inzaghi.

Destro’s 13 league goals for Roma in the 2013-14 season remains his best ever return, and he hit double figures just once in five seasons with Bologna before joining current club Genoa in 2020. His senior international career, meanwhile, has been essentially non-existent since 2014.

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