Arsene Wenger admits he could have signed Cristiano Ronaldo for Arsenal if he was just ‘a few days quicker’ before superstar joined Man United… and he also narrowly missed out on landing a teenage N’Golo Kante!
- Arsene Wenger was Arsenal boss when he tried to sign Cristiano Ronaldo
- Wenger admits the club needed to be a ‘fraction quicker’ to pip Man Utd in 2003
- Speaking to Ian Wright, he revealed how he missed out on a young N’Golo Kante
Arsene Wenger claims that Arsenal could have signed Cristiano Ronaldo in 2003 if they were ‘just a fraction quicker’ before Manchester United pipped them.
At the time, Ronaldo was a relatively unknown 17-year-old at Sporting Lisbon while Wenger was in charge of an Arsenal side who along with United were the chief challengers for the Premier League title.
Wenger’s 22 years at the Gunners before leaving in 2018 was known for the club missing out on star players within in their grasp, having also failed to land Zlatan Ibrahimovic early in his career after only offering him a trial and not a contract.
Arsene Wenger has recalled how he nearly signed Cristiano Ronaldo and N’Golo Kante
Wenger was pipped to the Portuguese star by Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United
But Ronaldo could be the biggest of the lot, with Wenger admitting they were just a ‘few days’ away from completing a deal.
When asked by Ian Wright for Sport Bible on players he regretted not signing, Wenger responded: ‘Certainly Cristiano Ronaldo.
‘It was possible and if we had been a fraction quicker, a few days, because we had agreed, and Man United came in five, six days later.
‘So I would say at the start of my career, Cristiano Ronaldo. And the end of my career, N’Golo Kante.’
Ferguson brought Ronaldo to Old Trafford in 2003 when he was a relative unknown teenager
Arsenal had tried to sign Kante from Leicester City in 2016 after he helped them towards an astonishing Premier League title before pulling out of the race.
But when asked by Wright if he really was close to signing the defensive midfielder, who now stars at Chelsea, Wenger also recalled how he nearly landed the France star before he even joined Leicester.
‘Easy. Because he played in a club in Paris.
‘That’s called Suresnes where one of my best friends is a director and he told me “Please, I have a player who we know is unbelievable. Nobody wants him in France.”
Wenger revealed how he failed to act when offered the chance to sign a teenage N’Golo Kante
‘He took him in his car and travelled with him from club to club, and finally a club from division three in France took N’Golo Kante.
‘It is an unbelievable story, N’Golo Kante – you could make a film as well with him.
‘He is something that you don’t find often. He wins the ball without making any foul. And straight away, he moves that ball forward.’
Kante starred as a youth player at Suresnes between 1999 and 2010 before moving to Boulogne where he made his senior debut.
From there he signed for Caen in 2013, which is where the Foxes picked the now 30-year-old up from for just £5.6m two years later.