REAL MADRID star Federico Valverde has become the latest talent to reveal ex-Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger blew the chance to sign him.
The 21-year-old has hugely impressed Zinedine Zidane since returning from his loan at Deportivo La Coruna and has featured in many of Los Blancos’ best performances so far this season.
The Uruguayan midfielder is seen as the natural successor to Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric at the Bernabeu in the future.
Yet before Madrid swooped to land him from his local club for a paltry £4.5million two years ago, Valverde had been heavily linked with a move to the Emirates.
He told Real Madrid TV: “Arsenal asked about me when I was with Penarol, and I had travelled to practice with them.
“It was very small. Sharing training with Alexis Sanchez and the fact that he came to help me with the language was something very nice.”
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Arsenal fans will be cursing their luck at missing out on Valverde, such is his form this season that Christian Eriksen’s dream move to Madrid could be dashed.
Following their 6-0 Champions League win over Galatasaray last week, teammate Toni Kroos backed the starlet to have a great future at the club.
The German told the Evening Standard: “He has been amazing. He is on great form. When I speak about Rodrygo and say that he is very clear, I think Fede has been doing this since the first day.
“He’s fighting, he’s helping a lot in defence. He’s not losing balls, he’s very good on the ball. I really love this player.
“To come here is not easy, to play like that, at this age, means he has a lot of quality and I’m pretty sure he will have a great future here. For many, many years.”
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Valverde’s form will likely increase Arsenal fan’s frustration at old boss Wenger, who recently claimed that he almost signed Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
The 70-year-old is notorious for his audacious tales over players he nearly brought to North London, including attempts to sign the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba and Raphael Varane.
It was even revealed earlier this year that Wenger had bungled the chance to sign Liverpool superstar Sadio Mane for just £4million in 2012.
THE XI OF PLAYERS ARSENAL 'COULD' HAVE SIGNED
Goalkeeper – Gianluigi Buffon
Juventus icon came close to joining the Gunners in 2011.
Defender – Gerard Pique
Arsene Wenger wanted to bring La Masia product Pique to North London at the same time as Cesc Fabregas, and was incredibly close to doing so before a failed work permit scuppered the deal.
Defender – Virgil Van Dijk
Emirates side blew the chance to sign Prem’s best defender because they thought he was “too nonchalant”, according to ex-Celtic assistant manager John Collins.
Defender – Raphael Varane
“He was at Lens, and we might well have caught him there,” said Wenger in 2013.
Midfielder – N’Golo Kante
Arsenal looked into a move for energetic midfielder before Leicester snapped him up for just £5.6m in August 2015.
Midfielder – Paul Pogba
Wenger said in 2014: “We were interested in him. We tried to get him to come here, but he very quickly signed for Juventus.”
Winger – Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo had been shown around Arsenal’s London Colney training complex, while a £4million deal was agreed for the 18-year-old.
But after the skillful youngster gave the United defence the run-around in a friendly against Sporting Lisbon, Sir Alex Ferguson made sure that the Portuguese headed for Old Trafford.
Winger – Gareth Bale
Arsenal were monitoring the progress of Welsh superstar Gareth Bale at the same time as Theo Walcott while the pair were at Southampton.
Wenger said it was a “huge mistake” not snapping him up.
Forward – Lionel Messi
Arsenal had offered the Argentine a contract at the end of the 2002/03 season.
Forward – Kylian Mbappe
Wenger held talks with World Cup winner over a switch prior to his £165m PSG move.
Forward – Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Arsenal came close to signing the then 19-year-old Ibrahimovic while he was still at Malmo, but the striker didn’t respond well to being asked to play in a trial match.
“No way, Zlatan doesn’t do auditions,” the player bragged.