Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is notorious for being very careful with his purchases. Take this summer, for example. Even though the departure of Thomas Vermaelen left us critically short of defensive cover, he refused to purchase a defender unless he could get one he wanted. When that move failed to materialise, he chose to start the season without any cover, a decision that backfired spectacularly, as we now know.
But he also tries hard to get the players he wants, especially promising youngsters. One need only look at the number of players Wenger has developed over the years to see that the manager has an eye for these things. But more impressive than the ones he has landed are the ones he failed to land, or so it seems. Take the case of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who turned down Arsenal. Or Lionel Messi, who was courted by Wenger before he ever played for the Barcelona senior side but who Wenger was ultimately unsuccessful in signing.
Yet another player who slipped from Arsenal’s grasp in recent times is France midfielder Paul Pogba, as Wenger revealed in this statement. Wenger explained how Arsenal attempted to sign the French starlet when he was with Manchester United. But due to the club being reluctant to sell to rivals in the same league, Pogba was eventually allowed to leave on a free and he went on to join Italian Champions Juventus.
We were interested by Pogba when he was at Manchester [United].
We tried to get him, but it was complicated. I was surprised to see Manchester let him go. We did not have the right to contact him.
This is a classic case of what could have been. If we had managed to land Pogba when he left Old Trafford, we would have been able to inculcate our style of play into him with ease and he would slot perfectly into our midfield in the holding role. He has the physical presence and the positional awareness to do well there, not to mention great vision. Also, his pace and strength would make him a much better choice than Arteta or Flamini any day. Admittedly, he is still just one player, but he could have been the lynchpin that we needed to connect the defence to the midfield seamlessly.
It is all wishful thinking now of course, but if the opportunity ever presents itself, I would love to see Wenger bring in the Frenchman to the Emirates.