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Superstars That Almost Signed For Arsenal As Youngsters

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3.61K   //    10 Aug 2018, 10:31 IST

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Arsenal once came close to signing Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi

Young players are enigmatic, volatile, and unproven. Shrouded in uncertainty, managers can’t be blamed for failing to recognize the potential of a bright youngster or two.

However, Arsenal’s board, Arsene Wenger, and their myopic scouts have made themselves notorious for failing to sign future superstars. Here are just a few of the many starlets that slid through the clutches of Arsenal and on to much greater things:

#7 Yaya Toure (Age: 20)

Yaya playing a friendly against Barnet in 2003

The Manchester City stalwart is most renown for turning a pretender into a contender. Before Toure’s arrival, Manchester City hadn’t even come close to challenging for the Premier League title. Just a season after Yaya’s arrival he turned his new club into perennial winners as he bossed Premier League midfielders.

It’s a dream story for Yaya and City but it could’ve all been a ‘what if’ fantasy of its own had he signed with Arsenal at the age of 20. Despite Wenger having scouted him since he was 15, the former Arsenal manager wasn’t clairvoyant enough to see what Toure’s future had in store.

Even though the midfielder donned a Gunners jersey in a friendly against Barnet in 2003 –and with his brother already a starting XI lock- Wenger refused to sign the player after his trial.

Some inside the Arsenal camp will tell you that Yaya wasn’t signed because he had an average trial. Wenger himself, however, would tell you that permit issues and an impatient Yaya meant that his Arsenal days would be nothing but a fantasy for red North Londoners. 

#6 Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Age: 16)

Somehow this isn't photoshopped, Zlatan to Arsenal really almost happened

At the tender age of 16, Zlatan was being courted by Arsenal. In hindsight the move would have been a no-brainer, however, Arsene wasn’t completely sold on bringing over the 16-year-old from Malmo so he asked Zlatan to train with the first team before inking a deal.

In classic Zlatan fashion, the striker rejected Wenger’s cautious overture and opted for Ajax shortly after. 

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