The post-Invincibles era under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal has become synonymous with transfer failures and near-misses, with the Frenchman having a hefty back catalogue of names that he claims to have come close to bringing to north London.
From Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – to name just a few – a whole host of high profile figures are believed to have been tantalisingly close to making the switch under Wenger’s watch, only for the club to narrowly miss out to other suitors.
Throughout his tenure, and since, Gunners supporters have had to listen to the veteran coach – who left his post in 2018 – frequently recount tales of these missed opportunities, with it somewhat unclear as to what the benefits are of dredging up old wounds.
One of those among the long list of names that slipped through his grasp was current Manchester United man Paul Pogba, the polarising midfielder having been the subject of interest from the Emirates outfit back in 2012.
At the time, the youngster was coming towards the end of his first spell at Old Trafford having refused to agree a new deal with the club, following his lack of first-team opportunities under Sir Alex Ferguson.
As his contract ran down, clubs began circling to try and snap him up on a free transfer, with the player eventually opting to move to Serie A giants Juventus.
Wenger subsequently revealed two years later that he had attempted to recruit the 6 foot 3 playmaker himself, although fell short in his pursuit.
As reported by the Telegraph, the serial-winning coach said of Pogba that: “As a footballer, he has everything. It is difficult to figure out what he doesn’t have. Things happened very quickly. We were interested in him. We tried to get him to come here. But he very quickly signed for Juventus”
It was not the first time they had missed out on his services, however, with reports suggesting that they had been monitoring his situation as a teenager at Le Havre back in 2009, before he eventually linked up with the Red Devils.
Having had such a rich history of bringing in French talent, it would no doubt have been an almighty snub to miss out on the young “maverick” – as he has been described by pundit Gary Neville.
As it proved, the player arrived back at the Theatre of Dreams in 2016 for a club-record fee of £89m, with that bid leaving a potentially frustrated Wenger to dub the size of the price tag as “complete madness.”
Since then, the 29-year-old has largely infuriated for the Red Devils, although he has still chipped in with 90 goal contributions 233 appearances for the club to date, while on the international stage he has claimed the World Cup and the Nations League under Didier Deschamps.
As he nears another free transfer exit from United after a difficult and at times toxic stint, it could be seen that Arsenal dodged a bullet by missing out on his signature. That being said, having been a keen admirer of his talent, Wenger would likely have been able to mould him into a star for the Gunners, as he had done previously with the likes of Patrick Vieira. With that in mind, this failed pursuit has to be seen as somewhat of a howler from the French tactician.
As it is, the £49.5m-rated man never ended up in London, with his time in English football looking likely to come and end in the coming months, with it simply a case of what might have been had Wenger got his way all those years ago.