It has become a running joke now with Arsene Wenger admitting now and then that he could’ve signed highly talented players. An entire XI of players can be formed out of his misses and that XI will be one of the most unstoppable teams of all time. That XI would’ve been spoken like how FC Barcelona’s sextuple winning side and Manchester United’s treble winning team would’ve been spoken about. Here is the XI Arsene Wenger could have had, had he been in an ideal world, arranged in a 3-4-3 formation.
GK- Gianluigi Buffon
The legendary Italian goalkeeper was a Parma player when Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson came knocking to sign him. Wenger wanted a long term replacement for David Seaman and it was Gianluigi Buffon who was targeted. However Juventus came and snapped him for a price of £32.5 million.
CB- Raphael Varane
Laurent Koscielny, Olivier Giroud, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira all made a name for themselves at Arsenal and all of them were French players. Arsene Wenger being a French manager had a knack for signing French players and Raphael Varane was one he targeted when the latter was at Lens. However despite his best efforts the manager couldn’t sign the defender.
CB- Gerard Pique
Back in 2003, Arsene Wenger wanted to get both Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique to Arsenal to pair them with Cesc Fabregas. While he failed in both his endeavours, Cesc Fabregas was a successful signing. Arsene Wenger believed that the triumvirate of Lionel Messi, Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique would’ve been unstoppable. However Manchester United signed Pique and FC Barcelona retained Messi (wisely).
CB- Vincent Kompany
Another failed signing of a defender, Arsene Wenger could have had Manchester City’s most iconic defender at his team. When he was a youngster, he had Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Arsenal vying for his signature. Despite meeting Wenger at the Arsenal training ground, Kompany wanted to be a starting player, which Arsenal couldn’t guarantee him. Manchester City came in and signed him and the rest is history as we know.
Mid- Yaya Toure
Yaya Toure played a pre-season friendly for Arsenal in the year 2003, but Arsenal couldn’t get him to sign because of a work permit. Yaya Toure later moved to Metalurk Donetsk and then to FC Barcelona and finally moved to Manchester City. At Manchester City is where he became the legendary midfielder that he is regarded as.
Mid- N’golo Kante
Leicester City had won the Premier League title in the 2015/16 season and scripted one of the greatest stories in the history of football. Almost relegated in the previous season, to win the title the very next season was a historic achievement to say the least. The likes of Jamie Vardy, Riyadh Mahrez and N’golo Kante steered the team to glory and were poached by bigger teams.
While Vardy stayed, Wenger claimed that he attempted to sign French midfielder N’golo Kante twice. However his attempts failed and Chelsea snapped him up soon enough.
Mid- Claude Makelele
Another French midfielder, Arsene Wenger had the chance to sell Claude Makelele, who had just won the Ligue 1. However Arsenal had signed Patrick Vieira, who was also a French midfielder and Wenger wanted to give Vieira more time. Makelele went on to sign for Chelsea and had a career where he won the La Liga, the Premier League and the Champions League.
He was such a signing that the defensive midfielder role is sometimes nicknamed as the “Makelele role”
Mid- Paul Pogba
Another French midfielder, Paul Pogba was a Manchester United player when Arsene Wenger wanted to sign him. He didn’t have too much game time at Manchester United and was seeking for a move out and Wenger wanted to bring him to Arsenal. However Juventus arrived and signed quickly in 2014.
RWF- Lionel Messi
Arsene Wenger tried to sign both Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique in 2003 to have a trio of Messi-Fabregas- Pique. All three of them were FC Barcelona players and Wenger succeeded in signing Cesc Fabregas. However FC Barcelona retained Lionel Messi while Gerard Pique went to Manchester United and later returned to FC Barcelona. All three of them are great players and Arsenal could’ve been elevated to another level with their signings.
CF- Kylian Mbappe/Luis Suarez/Zlatan Ibrahimovic
It is well documented how Arsenal bid one pound over the £40 million release clause of fearsome striker Luis Suarez. The Liverpool centre-forward was one of Arsene Wenger’s targets but Liverpool refused to sell him for fee like that. They viewed Arsenal’s bid as humiliation and a move collapsed. FC Barcelona came along and signed him for £65 million.
Kylian Mbappe could’ve been an Arsenal player for free while Zlatan Ibrahimovic could’ve been signed from Malmo. Arsene Wenger had the choice of signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic without offering him a trial and he didn’t sign him.
LWF- Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo was a hot prospect back when he was a Sporting Lisbon player and was offered to both Liverpool and Arsenal. While Liverpool rejected him because he was too skinny, Arsenal couldn’t agree to a transfer fee for Cristiano Ronaldo. Sir Alex Ferguson was alerted about this information and he immediately pounced on this transfer. The rest as we know is history as Cristiano Ronaldo went on to become a 5x Ballon D’or winner along with a 5 time UEFA Champions League winner with both Manchester United and Real Madrid.
To say the least, Arsene Wenger also missed on the transfers of Jadon Sancho, Dimitri Payet and Didier Drogba. Arsenal was on the precipice of greatness and in an ideal world could’ve had the world at their feet.