The transfer window is always awashed with several players that are linked to the club. When a particular player that was reported close to joining the club eventually ends up at another club, little is known as to how close Arsenal were in signing such a player or whether they were indeed interested in the first place.
This picture aptly represents the scenario in the summer when French winger Antoine Griezmann was linked to Arsenal in the summer. There were suggestions at the time that the club could use Carlos Vela as a make weight to prize the Real Sociedad winger to North London. However following his switch to Atletico Madrid, which came after his strong display at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, little has been heard in respect of how close Arsenal was in signing him with all the blizzard of reports linking him to North London in the summer.
The 23 year old France international has now come out to say that he turned down the chance to join Arsenal because he wanted an opportunity of being coached by Diego Simeone and ultimately, that he wanted to remain in Spain.
“Why Spain and not elsewhere? This is my championship, my home. I’m happy here and Atletico is a great club. The [champions] were willing to pay €30 million [£23.8m] for me,”
“I had the boss on the phone. He motivated me and said the club really wanted me. I knew that I was coming here to learn.
“Was it weird when PSG and Arsenal were also interested? [Atletico are] still the champions of Spain!
“I needed a club like that and a coach like Diego Simeone to progress. I always demands intensity in training. That’s my style and I like it.”
It is clearly one that got away if his comments are anything to go by. Although he plays predominantly from the left wing being a left footer, the signing of Alexis Sanchez in July who claims he is more comfortable playing from the left essentially put paid to the possibility of Arsenal signing him in the summer. Another thing he pointed out was that Atletico Madrid was willing to match his valuation. And going by how Arsene Wenger operates, the Frenchman usually has his own valuation of players which most times differs from that of the selling club. Perhaps Arsenal was not prepared to match what he went for in the summer.
In the end, he ended up at the Spanish champions, and the rest is history.