Another One That Got Away: Arsene Wenger Reveals How He Once Nearly Signed Angel Di Maria

Arsene Wenger has named another one!

At a recent press conference, he revealed that Arsenal so nearly (yes, nearly) signed Argentinian winger Angel Di Maria for a cut price deal when he was all of 17 years old but was thwarted by British work permit regulations. In the ongoing January transfer window, Arsenal are facing further troubles over the signing of Brazilian defender Gabriel Paulista who is likely to be refused a work permit since he does not possess a valid EU passport.

“We wanted him to come here. But he goes from Portugal and from Portugal he goes to Spain. Why? Because he could not get a work permit,” Wenger said of the Di Maria situation.

“We wanted him to come here. But he goes from Portugal and from Portugal he goes to Spain. Why? Because he could not get a work permit.”

Arsene Wenger

The Argentinian eventually ended up in England at the home of fierce Premier League rivals Manchester United who broke the all time British transfer record in bringing him in for $105 million from Real Madrid. Taking a dig at the move, the Frenchman went on to say that the current FA rulings made it possible for a player to move to England only when he had a huge price tag stuck to his name. Wenger explained:

“What does it mean if at the end of the day he comes into the country anyway, with the only difference being it’s for a huge amount of money? And who do you pay that do? A club like Real Madrid who does not need the money.”

Angel Di Maria finds his name listed alongside some of the footballing greats of the present generation including the likes of Lionel Messi and former Real teammate Cristiano Ronaldo. Arsene Wenger’s persistent claims of how Messi would have been with him had it not been for the La Masia people is well known to all those who closely follow football and he was never happy with how Ronaldo ended up at United.

With the revelation that Argentinian superstar Di Maria could well have been a Gunner, here we take a look at the complete XI of the men “so nearly signed” by the frugal Frenchman. Looking at what an impressive squad that would have made, Arsenal fans can only sit back and wonder, what if…

The Ones That Got Away

Arsenal were tormented by Cristiano Ronaldo during his time at Manchester United while Ronaldinho and, later, Lionel Messi always seemed to conspire against Wenger every time Barcelona came up against Arsenal in the Champions League (most notably, the 2006 final). Gareth Bale, another member of this “illustrious” list, was always a star performer for cross-town rivals Tottenham Hotspurs each time the two teams met in a North London derby.

With Arsenal presently fifth in the Premier League standings and fighting for a Champions League spot, Wenger’s men visit Old Trafford for their reverse fixture in the penultimate weekend of the season. For all their troubles in the recent past, United have done remarkably well against the Gunners.

And having lost 2-1 against the Red Devils at the Emirates where Angel Di Maria played a key role in helping their opponents to victory, Arsene Wenger will be hoping that his near miss of a 17-year-old Argentinian winger does not prove too costly this time round.


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