Jamie Vardy was Arsene Wenger’s top choice striker during the summer transfer window but Leicester City’s top scorer chose to stay at the club. The England striker would have considered the move to Arsenal but both his ‘head’ and ‘heart’ told him otherwise.
Arsenal had met Vardy’s release clause of £20 million, but the 29-year-old did not see his career away from the defending Premier League champions.
Vardy encountered Wenger during Euro 2016 in France, both before and after he snubbed Arsenal. He recently opened up about what went on during the tournament as he made the difficult choice between Leicester and Arsenal.
“I was in a hotel room for many hours of every day with nothing to do,” Vardy explains, as reported by Sky Sports. “You had a lot of time on your hands.
“I am not going to beat around the bush – every time I thought about it, and every aspect of it I thought about, both my head and my heart were saying to stay, which is why I made my decision to stay.
“Deep down if you don’t think it is the right move for you, you don’t do it. It is as simple as that. You get that much time to think about every single thing down to the tea lady.
“You think about what might happen, what might not, where you could be, where not. Every time I thought about every little thing, both head and heart were saying, ‘You need to stay’.
“In my professional life it was the hardest decision. It was hard but, like I said, when it came to my head and my heart it was an easy decision.”
Vardy explains that there was no awkwardness in meeting Wenger after he rejected a move to Arsenal.
“I spoke to him [Wenger] a couple of times in the hotels we were in while we were in France. It was just, ‘Hi, are you all right?’, and walk off to the match.
“It was basically every hotel. I think he was doing French TV for the Euros. It wasn’t awkward, it was just a simple, ‘Hello, are you okay?’ That kind of thing. It was a nice compliment they wanted to buy me. But my head and heart were saying stay.”
Arsene Wenger eventually bought Lucas Perez from Deportivo La Coruna instead for an estimated fee of £17 million. Although it seemed an odd decision for Vardy to stay with the Foxes, it makes sense for the player if he is purely focused on remaining the fulcrum of a clubs attack, playing at least one season in the Champions League and collecting a bucket load of cash. The striker received a new bumper deal with Leicester and would have had big competition for a starting spot up front for Arsenal.
Wenger was forced to look elsewhere and in Perez they have a player with similar attributes to Vardy and someone with a point to prove.