Dick Law has revealed that Arsenal came very close to signing both N’Golo Kante and Jamie Vardy from Leicester City in the summer of 2016, and one or both of those players would no doubt have had a huge impact for our club.
The 2015-16 campaign was one for the history books as the Foxes ran away with the Premier League title, overcoming pre-season betting odds of 5000-1, and one to open the eyes of many big clubs to the ability of a number of previously little-mentioned players.
There was much talk about the future of Leicester’s big guns, with PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez strongly linked with a move which failed to materialise that summer along with Jamie Vardy, while Kante did leave the club to join Chelsea.
It has since been revealed that Arsenal had the first shot at signing the French international midfielder, only to reject the agent fees needed to seal the deal.
“When things reached an extreme, we tended to back away,” Former Arsenal transfer negotiator Dick Law revealed.
The frustration builds when you take into consideration that we opted to sign Granit Xhaka in the same summer, for a transfer fee of £3 Million more than the Blues paid to buy Kante in the same window.
Law went onto confirm that we believed we had a deal in place to sign his team-mate Vardy in the same window, before the English striker changed his mind after talks with Wenger himself.
“The deal with Leicester was done, the deal with the player [Vardy] was done,” said Law.
“He came down to visit with his wife Rebekah, he sat on the couch in front of Arsene [Wenger]… and then he backed off.
“On his way back to Leicester I get a call from the player saying he wants to think about it overnight. At that point, you know it’s bad news.”
We finished in second place behind Leicester that term, but have since failed to qualify for the Champions League, and missing out by a point to Liverpool after missing out on both of these transfers is a sore point.
It looks as though Lucas Perez and Granit Xhaka were eventually signed in place of the aforementioned duo in the 2016 window, neither of which deserve to be compared to the above.
I have no doubt that we would got at least one more point from the 16-17 campaign with one of Kante or Vardy instead, which would have given us an extended run in the Champions League, and our recent history may well have proven much more successful.
Should the Arsenal hierarchy regret opting out of signing Kante? How much of an impact could either player have had in North London? Could these signings have saved Arsene Wenger from having to quit when he did?