Arsene Wenger reveals 'easy' transfer that he missed during his time as Arsenal manager
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Arsene Wenger has admitted that he regrets not signing Chelsea star N’Golo Kante during his legendary time at Arsenal.
The 73-year-old arrived at the north London club in 1996 before he eventually stepped down as Arsenal manager in 2018.
Wenger led Arsenal to three Premier League titles and lifted seven FA Cups during a remarkable 22-year spell at the Gunners.
And the former Monaco boss managed a plethora of talented players, including Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira and Robin van Persie.
However, Wenger has previously revealed that he failed to sign the likes of Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Lionel Messi.
The ex-Arsenal manager sat down with Ian Wright to promote the Arsene Wenger: Invincible documentary, which was released in UK cinemas in 2021.
And Wenger took questions from the SPORTbible audience, which included the player he regretted not signing the most in his career.
He admitted that early in his career it would have been Manchester United legend Cristiano Ronaldo, with Wenger claiming that a deal was possible if it had been a “fraction quicker.”
However, Wenger then made the bombshell admission to Arsenal hero Wright that Kante was another target he missed out later in his career.
Speaking on LADbible TV, he said: “Certainly Cristiano Ronaldo. I thought it was possible and if we had been a fraction quicker, a few days, because we had agreed [a deal], and Man United came in five or six days later.
“So I would say at the start of my career, Cristiano Ronaldo. At the end of my career, N’Golo Kante.”
Kante was snapped up by Leicester City in 2015 from French side Caen in a deal worth only £5.6m.
The 31-year-old French midfielder became a quintessential part of the Foxes’ unforgettable 2015-16 season, which culminated with Leicester lifting the Premier League title.
Kante, who is widely regarded as one of the best midfielders in the world, left Leicester in 2016 to sign for Chelsea in a reported £32m deal.
The Chelsea star has lifted a Premier League title, a Champions League, a Europa League and an FA Cup during his time at Stamford Bridge.
And Kante’s success post-Leicester also included his 2018 World Cup win with France in Russia.
When Wright asked Wenger if Arsenal could have managed to pull off a deal for Kante, he continued: “Easy, because he played in a club in Paris called Caen, where one of my best friends is the director.
“He told me, ‘Please, I have a player we know is unbelievable but nobody wants him in France.’
“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.
“And 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.”