Articles, Blog

Arsenal’s Failed Transfer Attempts Explained

January 13, 2020

There are many reasons that transfers break
down. “The case of Nuri Sahin,” former Arsenal
transfer negotiator Dick Law explained to The Athletic, “(was) classic Arsene Wenger.” With Alex Song poised to join Barcelona in
the summer of 2012, Arsenal were looking to sign the Turkish midfielder on a season-long
loan from Real Madrid. “I knew the agent”, explained Law, “we got the player side done
and he was in Madrid, and so I went down, met with Jose Angel Sanchez, the Real Madrid
managing director. We hammered out a deal… and then Arsene started stalling.” In fairness, Arsenal were operating in a difficult
financial landscape. Hit hard by the 2008 property market collapse, they were understandably
cautious. “The way I always characterised it is that we just couldn’t afford to make
a big mistake,” remembered Law. A loan deal for Sahin, however, was not a
huge commitment. After three weeks of delays, Real Madrid were unhappy and ready to pull
the plug on the deal. Law flew to Madrid to try to appease them, but on his arrival for
a meeting he was told that the Spanish club had agreed a deal with Liverpool. Not only
that, but it was on better financial terms. Wenger refused to meet Madrid’s demands,
and Sahin joined Liverpool. It left the Arsenal fans understandably disappointed, given that
the interest in Sahin had been public for some time and he was then being snatched away
at the last moment. It was a feeling with which they had become
familiar. There is an old adage among football fans
that you shouldn’t believe a transfer rumour until you see the player on your club’s
official website. Sometimes though, even that proves faulty, as in 2001, when goalkeeper
Jerzy Dudek was so close to signing for Arsenal that his profile appeared on the club site’s
squad page. Dudek had travelled to London for talks with
Wenger and agreed personal terms. When a Feyenoord spokesperson was asked if their goalkeeper
was on his way to Arsenal, he replied: “That is correct — Arsenal have said it. We are
waiting for our president to confirm with Mr David Dein”. Dudek himself can pick up the story. “I
came back to Feyenoord with hope that the clubs would agree a fee, but Feyenoord wanted
£10 million. Wenger was only willing to give £7 million,” the Poland international later
explained. Wenger opted for Ipswich Town’s Richard Wright instead, and Dudek joined Liverpool
two months later — for less than the £7 million Arsenal had been offering. In 2004, video game developers Konami were
so confident Arsenal would complete the signing of Hatem Trabelsi that they included him in
the club’s line-up for Pro Evolution Soccer 4. In fairness to them, they had good reason
to believe that the deal was done. Ajax director Arie van Eijden had emphatically
told AD Sportwereld, “It is nice that this case has been dealt with. Just a few minor
details must be handled before Arsenal will declare it official. We have had an agreement
with Arsenal for several days but we had to wait until Arsenal and the player reached
an agreement.” All that was left was Trabelsi’s medical
— but that highlighted some concerns. Arsenal then tried to restructure the deal, but to
no avail. Instead, Wenger waited a few months before signing a summer triallist who had
impressed against Ajax in the Amsterdam Tournament: the unknown Emmanuel Eboue. Law, who worked as Wenger’s transfer negotiator
from September 2009 to February 2018, knows better than most how fragile transfer talks
can be: “Even when we had signatures on papers, I knew that we had to go through our
registration process and you just never knew what the FA could come with, or FIFA could
come up with at the last minute.” The summer of 2013 was particularly eventful.
Arsenal fans remember it for the record purchase of Mesut Ozil and the doomed pursuit of Luis
Suarez, but before all that the club were on the verge of signing another Real Madrid
player, Argentina forward Gonzalo Higuain. The player’s father even told Fox Sports
Latin America, “We managed to get permission from Real Madrid to negotiate face to face
with Arsenal. Fortunately, I will soon be able to watch my son play in the Premier League.” As Law confirmed, finding an agreement with
the player was not the problem. “I went to Madrid and Jose Angel was always a gentleman
and always very up-front. He said, ‘Please, speak to the player and get that piece done’
— and we did. “Then, when I sat down with Jose Angel,
he said, ‘We want €45 million for the player.’” It was a huge fee at the time. Arsenal’s
transfer record was a deal for Andrey Arshavin at less than half that price. Law protested,
but Real Madrid stood firm. “I said, ‘Jose Angel, I’m sorry but
I’m missing something here. You know, he’s had at least four or five managers while he’s
been here and he’s never been a starter for any one of them’. He started talking
about the quality of the player and the person, and I said, ‘Listen, I get all that but
you’re asking €45 million for a player who’s, at best, a squad player… and he
said, ‘Well, that’s our price.’” The deal was dead in the water. Napoli, flush
with cash having sold Edison Cavani to Paris Saint-Germain, swooped in to take Higuain. That led Arsenal to pursue a deal for Suarez.
Their bid of £40 million plus another £1 has been widely derided, but Law insists all
parties understood there was no true “release clause”. “Pere Guardiola was the agent,” Law explains.
“He was very forthright, his position was really based on a verbal understanding — not
a written understanding, because the actual written clause as we know was not a buy-out
clause; not even close to a buy-out clause… But Pere insisted that he had a verbal agreement
that Liverpool would negotiate in good faith if a certain number was exceeded. He believed
they’d listen to offers above £40 million. The rest is enshrined in history. Arsenal
thought they finally had the centre-forward they wanted on deadline day. While fans went
wild over the imminent Ozil deal, behind the scenes Law and others were also trying to
negotiate a permanent deal for Chelsea striker Demba Ba. They got so close that Arsenal staff
prepared graphics for use on the club website, but they never saw the light of day. “I was in Paris, at rest, and Arsenal representatives
called me to tell me it was going to happen,” Ba remembered in conversation with France
Football. He travelled back to London expecting to be an Arsenal player, but by the time he
arrived the deal was off. The suggestion was that, concerned by Ozil’s
arrival, Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho was wary of potentially strengthening a rival. “Their
manager just changed his mind,” said Law. “I understand Mourinho’s decision as a
coach, but as a player, you are frustrated,” Ba added. In his final season with the club, Law worked
on the ill-fated bid for Thomas Lemar. That was a transfer saga that ran through a whole
summer. Arsenal had started negotiating in June, only for Monaco’s valuation to prove
prohibitive. Then at 10.30pm, two days before the window was due to close, Law received
a call from Vadim Vasilyev, the Monaco CEO. With little time to spare, Monaco had decided
they would do a deal. Law met with Wenger and Ivan Gazidis, and
they tried to set in motion a sequence of events that would see Alexis Sanchez leave
Arsenal for Manchester City and Lemar move to London. The issue, in this instance, was
time. Lemar had been called up by the France national team and was due to play that night. “By the time we were able to get in front
of the player on match day — this is 3pm — the player says, ‘This is too much stress
for me. I’m just going to stay at Monaco,’” Law revealed. Arsenal were a little taken
aback: they had already agreed personal terms with the player, and even offered to increase
their proposed terms. Nonetheless, Lemar needed more time to think — time Arsenal didn’t
have. Doing deals mid-season, in the January transfer
window, can be even more problematic. Arsenal are expected to be active in the forthcoming
window, but the fans should do their utmost to curb their excitement until everything
is signed and sealed. After all, they should know from bitter experience
just how delicate these deals can be.

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  • Reply F Dot January 10, 2020 at 11:36 pm

    And you wonder why us Arsenal fans are crazy! We have PTSD when it comes to Transfers

  • Reply Naren Keshav January 10, 2020 at 11:48 pm

    Goodly morning people.

  • Reply elky85 January 10, 2020 at 11:56 pm

    Very interesting . . .

  • Reply Chicken Oriental January 11, 2020 at 12:04 am

    Am sure the narrator gets aroused everytime the athletic is mentioned

  • Reply John Jensen January 11, 2020 at 12:21 am

    what a load of rubbish

  • Reply Samuel Idakwo January 11, 2020 at 12:36 am

    Another great video made with meticulous detail. My vote for best football channel on youtube.

  • Reply Andrew January 11, 2020 at 12:39 am

    I will never forget the time Willian was in talks to join Liverpool, only for Spurs to swoop in and be on the verge of signing the player. Of course, the rest is now history, as the player, quite unexpectedly, instead opted for a move to Chelsea. Hilarious.

  • Reply Daddy January 11, 2020 at 12:43 am

    Lemar was a flop anyways

  • Reply No Easy Money January 11, 2020 at 1:03 am

    My heart bleeds for Arsenal…..Imagine supporting a club which has nearly gone out of business or are that lowest point in their existence.

    Everyone is linked with players over the years. Look at my team Sunderland linked with Luis Suarez before he signed for Liverpool. Van nistolroy was going to sign under Reidy but injuries and timing stopped that happening. Even back in the 80s Argentinian newspaper were saying that Maradona was wanting to sign for sunderland. We ended up with Marangoni who after leaving us went on too win the coppa libertadores

  • Reply No January 11, 2020 at 1:17 am

    Where did this original story come from

  • Reply vengefulhero January 11, 2020 at 1:36 am


  • Reply Elyptica January 11, 2020 at 2:05 am

    arsenal was never gonna get my boy Suarez, way too good for any prem team at the time
    DESTINATION BARCA was the best option to hold off for, and now he's best friends with MESSI

  • Reply Frasier 88 January 11, 2020 at 2:12 am

    No one want's to play for arsewipes – that simple !

  • Reply Kyle Sekenski January 11, 2020 at 3:31 am

    I’m a simple Spurs fan. I see a video with a title of “Arsenal’s failed—“ as the first two words of the title while scrolling and I watch it without hesitation.

  • Reply M Elfie January 11, 2020 at 3:32 am

    still remember how complicated to signed Kieran Tierney too, it was all over the summer and they signed before deadline

  • Reply OXYMORON January 11, 2020 at 3:42 am

    Now do united spend almost a billion dollar for average players

  • Reply Sami Mohammad January 11, 2020 at 3:51 am

    Mbappe saga
    CR7 signing
    Messi pique Gerrard and Cesc Fàbregas package deal signing (when they were all youngsters)
    Ronaldinho almost signing.
    40 million budget
    Xhaka being bought instead of Kante

    So many more stories

  • Reply Ankle Socks January 11, 2020 at 4:18 am

    I always questioned why tf the club did not buy in higuain in 2013, turns out it was gross incompetence from a clown who had probably never kicked a ball in his life. Hazard was also keen on coming here before lille won a league title, the less anyone talks about that, the better.

  • Reply Leirs Deirs January 11, 2020 at 4:33 am

    To be fair we did dodge some bullets by not signing some of these players.

  • Reply 0pposable January 11, 2020 at 5:47 am

    Another story stolen from the Athletic by these losers

  • Reply no no January 11, 2020 at 6:14 am

    arsenal is a failure of a club last decade, i hope they really fix their shit this decade

  • Reply Joshua Enelamah January 11, 2020 at 6:22 am

    The amount of fews you got in 23 hours says a lot

  • Reply Domenic Galata January 11, 2020 at 6:26 am

    Wasn’t Ronaldinho almost brought in from PSG but couldn’t get a work permit issued in time?

  • Reply Conor Wall January 11, 2020 at 6:43 am

    asking arsenal fans to be reasonable…ha

  • Reply CaptAwesome58 January 11, 2020 at 6:46 am

    Damn, what could have been…

  • Reply thankqwerty January 11, 2020 at 6:47 am

    This make me sad

  • Reply Anthony Stuart January 11, 2020 at 7:25 am

    none of these drawings look like the players lmao…

  • Reply Kartikey Kotnala January 11, 2020 at 7:34 am

    7:03 , alexis sanchez to city when?

  • Reply 이연우 January 11, 2020 at 7:42 am

    We just nearly signed every player in the world

  • Reply Gazi Thasin Kabir January 11, 2020 at 8:19 am

    Tifo and the athletic is like david dobrik and seat geek

  • Reply tlst9999 January 11, 2020 at 8:54 am

    Arsene's classic quote "I almost signed this guy" is now more sad than funny.

  • Reply Sai Anand January 11, 2020 at 9:06 am

    You guys should do a piece of failed transfers in general, across clubs I mean, and include Nabil Fekir's failed transfer to Liverpool in that (the dude was in the Liverpool kit in Melwood giving interviews but it ended up not happening).

  • Reply Free Beats by Atlas January 11, 2020 at 9:27 am

    What about CR7 who went to United

  • Reply Elegance January 11, 2020 at 10:00 am

    Wenger is an idiot

  • Reply vape donut January 11, 2020 at 10:16 am

    so Wenger always was the problem.

  • Reply stuart balchin January 11, 2020 at 10:32 am

    40mil and £1 let me explain this for Luis Suaez

    The deal was Arsenal pay off Luis's contract and Liverpool get £1 for the transfer

  • Reply XTNT January 11, 2020 at 10:34 am

    When i saw the thumbnail i thought it was nicholas cage

  • Reply Mr Infinity January 11, 2020 at 10:37 am

    Liverpool just watches arsenal scout players and then make them a better offer

  • Reply Moses Amabe Jr January 11, 2020 at 11:00 am

    This story originally originated on….

  • Reply morob196 January 11, 2020 at 11:33 am

    Banter FC

  • Reply 11 11 January 11, 2020 at 12:07 pm

    Banter F.C

  • Reply benjamen fenton January 11, 2020 at 12:10 pm

    I love arsenal but the state of these transfers is beyond embarrassing

  • Reply Nyaluogo Walter January 11, 2020 at 12:59 pm

    Next video… All those players Wenger could have signed 😂

  • Reply Ironborn4 January 11, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    Imagine ozil, higuain and suarez in 1 team

  • Reply one word man January 11, 2020 at 2:28 pm

    There was nothing wrong with bidding £40M+1 for Suarez.
    If his release clause was £40M wouldn't the same people be mocking us for wasting money if we'd offered £45M or £50M? It just turns out that release clauses aren't worth the paper they're printed on

  • Reply srikar v. January 11, 2020 at 4:02 pm

    As a United fan, this video feels eerily personal to us.

  • Reply sumedh ubhare January 11, 2020 at 6:19 pm

    Guys can we have a video on,how barcelona would lineup and play under xavi??

  • Reply jezusmylord January 11, 2020 at 6:59 pm

    Paying to read stuff so you can make money from the ads? NOPE.

  • Reply Vincent Alexander Chandra January 11, 2020 at 7:27 pm

    how about eden hazard?

  • Reply Vivek Maru January 11, 2020 at 8:12 pm

    Even if Arsenal don't manage to sign any players in the January transfer window, Arteta is sure to grind out results with the squad in hand. Rebuilding can begin next season and the players should erase the memories of this horrible season from their minds.

  • Reply JamieB 05 January 11, 2020 at 8:23 pm


  • Reply TASK FORCE BLACK January 11, 2020 at 9:04 pm


  • Reply Robert Karlsson January 11, 2020 at 9:39 pm

    Arsenal are so embarrassing

  • Reply fabrizio ferrigno January 12, 2020 at 12:38 am

    Why was there a violin version of the jingle that puts a baby to sleep in a cradle at the introduction?

  • Reply Skipping Tax January 12, 2020 at 1:51 am


  • Reply Hee Sing Sia January 12, 2020 at 1:59 am

    I remember reading a piece about demba ba black sheep

  • Reply Martyn Stembridge January 12, 2020 at 2:23 am

    Don't cry too much over Suarez … His destiny was ALWAYS a move to Barca, and Arsenal would have got a maximum of 2 seasons out of him before he would have started biting opponents and becoming a wonderfully talented pain in the ass again. He's still quite possibly the most talented forward I've ever watched at Liverpool, but problems overshadowed him at all times, and you were constantly wondering what the next controversy would be.

  • Reply yash shetty January 12, 2020 at 6:55 am

    Nxt video….. Arsenal under Arteta plssss

  • Reply knightpeanut January 12, 2020 at 11:08 am

    Someone write a book about these

  • Reply egal ibrahim January 12, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    Wow lamar fuck up he went to Spain only to become a bench player

  • Reply Rahul Srinivas January 12, 2020 at 2:35 pm

    I'm looking for an Athletic joke. Come on guys!

  • Reply shamsham1983 January 12, 2020 at 3:31 pm

    Highlights were just to lure other clubs to buy these players Arsenal scouted. Wenger was a great scout he almost bought "Ronaldo and mbappe" as he could see the potential.. So great he sold all his best players and kept players like Lord Benther..

  • Reply OJ45 January 12, 2020 at 4:09 pm

    Human beings originally appeared on the athletic

  • Reply Tshepo Boikanyo January 12, 2020 at 4:20 pm

    Arsenal being Arsenal. Wow

  • Reply janus lie January 12, 2020 at 6:01 pm

    arsenal transfer policy like chinese or indian market bargain mentality ; i want to purchase good player with as low as possible transfer fee lol

  • Reply Ethan Manners January 12, 2020 at 6:22 pm


  • Reply Devrim Tiryaki January 12, 2020 at 8:10 pm

    Regarding Nuri Sahin, it's pronounced "Sha-heen", not "Sa-hin"

  • Reply Pavol Krajčovič January 12, 2020 at 10:00 pm

    This is more like Comedy central than Arsenal football club

  • Reply Mario Thomas January 13, 2020 at 12:31 am

    Story this appeared the first Athletic in

  • Reply Rucheek Kuppachi January 13, 2020 at 3:05 am

    Can you do a video on inflation in the price of defenders

  • Reply A Poocumber January 13, 2020 at 4:19 am

    Can y’all do a video on the Leeds United head coaches philosophy of “plays”?

  • Reply Boi Boi January 13, 2020 at 5:17 am

    To be fair some of the failed attempts were escapes.
    Also, from what I understand, we were never gonna get Suarez anyway. I think Arsenal expected Suarez to push for a move after the initial bid but StevieG convinced him to wait out for Barcelona, which was the correct strategy for him imo.
    Our dailying lost us Griezmann but saved us from Balotelli.
    You win some you lose some I guesss.

  • Reply john moore January 13, 2020 at 5:53 am

    Am glad Wenger didn't take these players and goalkeeper he knows who's crap and who's good this is false news we were not in for these players we got the better player in Ozil instead of Suarez he's washed up now and Ozil is still playing for Arsenal the best number 10 in the world

  • Reply Gaston Phalange January 13, 2020 at 8:40 am

    💬💬Fu*k Wenger. Ask me why

  • Reply Paul S January 13, 2020 at 12:06 pm

    You could literally make one of these for any team.

  • Reply UCAN HATEMENOW January 13, 2020 at 3:20 pm

    arsenal got what they deserved for being so greedy

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