Arsene Wenger is famous for talking about players that he ‘almost signed’ for Arsenal, with the likes of Messi, Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic all featuring on the list. It’s a common feature of discussion but oddly enough the names are never mentioned until they become world class.
One player who has broken the trend of being revealed when they have become world class is Manchester City’s young striker Kelechi Iheanacho. According to the player’s former academy boss, Iheanacho could’ve been wearing the red and white of Arsenal, only for the deal to be pulled by his former side before the Gunners could get him to sign.
Iheanacho’s former academy boss Ezenwere reportedly told website AllNigeriaSoccer.
“Arsenal were interested in Kelechi but I blocked the move, there was a problem with the agent brokering the deal.
I picked Manchester City ahead of Arsenal not because of money. I knew if he went to Man City he had a better chance of playing there than Arsenal and I have been proved right.
Kelechi has now become very popular, it wouldn’t have been so if he joined Arsenal.”
It’s a bold statement to suggest Iheanacho wouldn’t have had an opportunity to play for Arsenal like he has for City. In fact it is something that confuses me slightly considering Arsenal are world reknowned for giving young players a chance in the first team. Arsene Wenger dedicated a few years of Arsenal’s history to the development of young players at the club, with the spine of the side featuring the likes of Fabregas, Wilshere, Nasri and Szczesny. If Iheanacho had signed for Arsenal, I’m sure he would’ve got a chance to make an impact in the first team, just like he currently is at City. I personally reckon his former boss is trying to bath in the glory for what the young striker has become.
Many may think that this story doesn’t particularly matter and honestly it doesn’t really change anything to do with Arsenal’s current abilities. Iheanacho wouldn’t have made such a difference at Arsenal to the extent that the club’s fortunes would have changed. However if Iheanacho turns out to be amongst some of the best strikers in the not too far distance future, then I’m sure his name will be added to the list of players that Arsene Wenger almost signed.