Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger seems as reluctant as ever to spend some cash this transfer window, which has left Gunners fans wondering if they have the players capable of avoiding the ignominy of not only finishing below Tottenham, but possibly out of the Champions League spots, too. The stubborn Frenchman has missed out on loads of top players over the years, seemingly either reluctant to pay a couple of million pounds more, or because he's failed to spot potential. Here, talkSPORT has created a team of players Arsenal have come close to signing, without sealing the deal, during the Wenger era - and we don't think this side would lose to Swansea…
The 'keeper revealed that he nearly joined the Gunners in 2010, when Liverpool were in grave financial danger under the ownership of Gillett and Hicks. The Spaniard had asked to speak to Wenger about their proposed £20million bid, but was stopped by the Reds board as they desperately tried to prevent the club looking like it was in a free-fall. Could Wenger have pushed harder to secure a number one who's been one of the best in Europe over the past seven or eight years.
The Gunners were in for the talented defender, but wouldn't match the wages Man United were prepared to offer - how useful would he be to Arsenal at the moment given their injury crisis?
The Blackburn defender claimed he nearly joined Arsenal last summer, saying: "I think a move to Arsenal was very close in January but that is life. You have to continue."
The Man City captain joined Bundesliga side Hamburg in 2006 and after the deal went through, the Belgian international's agent revealed: 'Wenger made it clear that he wanted to sign Kompany to replace Sol Campbell, if he would leave the English giants.''
Arsenal contacted Newcastle about buying Enrique last summer and the player was a keen on a move to London to play Champions League football, but Liverpool swooped for the Spaniard in a deal worth £5million. Enrique has since been one of the Premier League's stand-out performers and Arsenal still haven't got a fit left-back.
There are pictures of Yaya in an Arsenal shirt as the tough midfielder played for the Gunners in a pre-season friendly in 2003. Now, Arsene Wenger has admitted he was wrong to dismiss the Ivory Coast international, concluding: "The only problem was to fix him into a position because he can play everywhere. He can play centre-back, as a second striker, as a midfielder and for a long time we didn’t know where to play him.”
Wenger admitted he pondered over a move for Hargreaves last summer, before the defensive midfielder moved to Manchester CIty. The Arsenal boss also considered buying the injury-prone former England international in 2007, before his move to Man United, but didn't believe the £17million price tag offered value for money (he was probably right, but then Hargreaves was a key part of United's Champions League and Premier League double in 2008).
The Real Madrid forward revealed he very nearly signed or Arsenal in 2003 after having multiple meetings with Arsene Wenger. Ronaldo said: “It’s true. I was an inch away from signing for Arsenal. I saw Arsene Wenger three times with my mother. It was very close to being a done deal. After I signed for United, she and I were sitting watching a Premier League game on television and she yelled out, ‘I know that guy – I liked him.’"
The talented Spanish midfielder was all set to join Arsenal last summer, only for the Gunners to refuse to stump up the £18million needed because they had yet to receive the money from the sale of Cesc Fabregas. Chelsea took full advantage of the Gunners dilly-dallying and the former Valencia star has impressed all season for the Blues.
In his recent autobiography AC Milan striker Ibrahimovic revealed he had a meeting with Arsene Wenger 10 years ago, after being invited to train with Arsenal while at his Swedish club Malmo. “I shuddered a bit at Wenger’s eyes, he tried to, like, see through me or find out who I was deep down," recalled Zlat. "He is a guy who takes up psychological profiles of the players. Are they emotional and stable — stuff like that. He is careful, as are all great coaches. I just sat quietly and was shy but after a while I lost my patience. Something with Wenger provoked me. He flew up from time to time and checked who was outside his window. He seemed to have total track." After this meeting the Gunners asked the volatile forward to play in a trial game, which he refused, subsequently going on to join Ajax instead.
Somehow, Arsene Wenger didn't spot the Chelsea hit-man's talent and missed out on the chance to sign Drogba for just £100,000, Wenger said: "We watched him carefully when he was at Le Mans, it was not only us who watched him. But we felt he might not be completely ready. It was a mistake but, when you are in football, everyone can understand. We had Thierry Henry. We said we would follow Drogba's progress. We never ruled him out."