By Chris Wright
With the news today that, despite it looking like a done deal for a good few weeks, Arsene Wenger is reportedly ready to pull the plug on Arsenal’s £17 million move for Yann M’Vila in lieu of waiting for Abou Diaby to fulfil his debatable potential, we thought we’d have a little look at some of the other big names that the frugal Frenchman has passed on at the eleventh hour during his tenure in North London – it’s not a bad little squad as things happen…
1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Aged 19 at the time, Zlatan was on the very cusp of joining Arsenal from Malmo for £3 million in 2000, that was until Wenger had the temerity to ask him to play in one – singular – trial match for the club before signing professional papers. The response (in third-person of course)? “Zlatan doesn’t do auditions.”
2. Juan Mata: During the summer of 2011, when every last double helix of Cesc Fabregas’ DNA was pulling him Barcelona-ward, it emerged that Arsenal were in a decent old position to bring in Juan Mata to help ease the pain of separation. Arsenal dithered for what seemed like months in their attempts to coax brassic Valencia into selling on the cheap and, sure enough, Chelsea were more than happy to stride in with a big fat cheque for £24 million.
3. Petr Cech: After flirting for a while beforehand, it looked like Cech was all but set to join Arsenal upon leaving Sparta Prague in 2002. Both fees and personal terms were agreed but work permit issues saw the Gunners weigh up the pros and cons of the wrangling entailed and ultimately deemed Cech to not be worth the hassle. Instead, he joined French side Rennes before eventually ending up ‘you know where’ and swiftly becoming one of the best ‘keepers in world football.
4. Joey Barton: We’ll perhaps never know how close he actually came to joining Arsenal last summer but, having been told by Newcastle that he could leave for free (despite having a year left on his current deal) after bitching about his stalled contract renewal talks on Twitter, Barton was strongly linked with an unlikely move to the Emirates.
Barton claimed he’d been contacted by the club’s coaching staff, while chairman Peter Hill-Wood was swift to deny all accusations as the semi-saga bubbled away – right up until the point where Barton reverted to type and got Gervinho sent off for ruffling his quiff on the opening day of the season. His agent’s number was wiped from