Arsène Wenger laments missing out on Cristiano Ronaldo and N’Golo Kanté
Ronaldo & Kante; the two that got away
There is perhaps no name more synonymous with Arsenal Football Club than Arsène Wenger.
A legend in every sense of the word, the Strasbourg-born managerial icon carved out a 22-year period in north London that firmly cemented his place in Premier League lore for all time. But even legends can make mistakes. A few of them, actually.
In a YouTube interview for LADbible TV to promote the documentary “Arsène Wenger – Invincible“, Wenger sat down alongside Arsenal great and former pupil Ian Wright and fielded questions from the SPORTbible audience in a fans ask questions segment regarding his time in north London.
Wenger was asked what player he regrets not signing the most, to which he responded with THAT answer;
“Certainly Cristiano Ronaldo. I thought it was possible, and if we had been a fraction quicker…a few days because we had agreed and Man United came in 5-6 days later.
I would say at the start of my career; Cristiano Ronaldo. At the end of my career; N’Golo Kanté.”
It is not the first time that Wenger has eluded to the missed opportunity that would have been Ronaldo at Highbury, while the chance to sign Kanté was bypassed in favor of Granit Xhaka in a decision that many supporters question to this day.
Wenger reveals who his best-ever signing was
Mistakes aside, Arsène Wenger signed a number of brilliant players during his time at Arsenal that truly helped elevate the club to another level. The likes of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Marc Overmars, Kolo Touré, Sol Campbell, Freddie Ljungberg, Emmanuel Petit, and many others come to mind. But who was the one that stood out the most for the Alsatian headmaster?
Wright: Who was the best signing you made throughout your career?
Wenger: We start very difficult. You know I made a few good signings…maybe the best – I would not say the best but maybe the signing that gave me credit because I arrived together with him was Patrick Vieira. After, you know of course, people say Thierry Henry. But of course Theirry Henry as well was an unbelievable signing but I came here unknown and Patrick – as was said many times – ‘we don’t know this guy but he brings good players.’
Wright: That’s the thing ’cause when you came boss, people were saying ‘Arsène who?’ And then when Patrick started to play – like you mentioned – then they said ‘well, it doesn’t matter ’cause he knows what he is doing.
Wright: I have got to say…if I am totally honest…for me…seeing Nicolas Anelka when he came and started training with us boss, makes you realize your time is short.
Wenger: It’s funny you say that because I had just had lunch with Rio Ferdinand today and he said ‘Arsène, Arsène, you had such good teams but the guy that impressed me the most is Nicolas Anelka. He said I could not keep up with him in the first ten yards, and that’s why when I saw you last night scoring a goal so fast I thought ‘I came too late for you…to get the best of you.’ And it’s true that after you face a guy like Anelka, it’s difficult.
It is hard to argue that Patrick Vieira was not the best-ever signing Arsène Wenger made during his more than two decades at Arsenal.
Unknown to almost everyone in England at the time of his arrival from AS Monaco for £3.5million, he would spend nine seasons at the club, make a combined 406-appearances, win three Premier League titles and four FA Cup’s, become half of an era-defining bitter rivalry with Manchester United’s Roy Keane, and help change the midfield landscape in the Premier League forever.
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