This article forms part of our The Ones That Got Away feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern take a look back at players linked with moves in the past, and see how they would have made an impact had they signed for the interested side.
When Arsene Wenger announced he would be stepping down as Arsenal boss in April 2018, the question of who would replace the legendary Frenchman was yet to be answered.
As the Gunners hierarchy eventually opted for the former Paris Saint-Germain manager Unai Emery, other candidates, including ex-midfielder Mikel Arteta, were overlooked in a bid to take over from Wenger, who turned 70 last month.
However, in the 18 months that have followed, the Gunners are yet to move forward from his departure, with the club still lurking outside the top four positions of the Premier League, and continue to compete in the Europa League having been beaten in the final during Emery’s first campaign at the helm.
After a lacklustre start to the current season, the Gunners have seen the likes of Chelsea and Leicester City peel away from them in the hunt for a Champions League place, with the latter’s Brendan Rodgers displaying a far more effective impact than Emery, having taken over the Foxes back in February.
And in hindsight, perhaps Rodgers ought to have been Wenger’s rightful heir.
Rodgers was mooted as a potential successor to the Wenger era at the Emirates Stadium, with Dermot Desmond, major shareholder at Celtic – Rodgers’ club at the time – insisting that the Scottish champions would not stand in the way of the Northern Irishman should the Gunners come calling.
Alas, the call never came, and as Rodgers prepares to face Arsenal this weekend – boasting a number of impressive victories over the Gunners – it looks like the former Liverpool manager still has a strong case to become Arsenal boss – with pundits in belief that he could solve the team’s issues as pressure mounts on Emery.
The Leicester boss saw his new side beat 10-man Arsenal 3-0 last season, little over a month following his arrival at the King Power Stadium.
With the Foxes riding high in third place, it would be understandable if those who gave Emery the job in May 2018 – overlooking Rodgers in the process – were feeling a little regretful, as the likes of Sheffield United and Bournemouth breathe down Arsenal’s necks while Leicester chase a Champions League berth.
Perhaps their meeting on Saturday evening will be further evidence of that, though given Rodgers’ exploits since, it certainly seems as if Arsenal missed a prime opportunity 18 months ago.
Is Emery the worst manager in the top six?
Arsenal fans, would Rodgers have been a wiser choice to succeed Wenger? Join the discussion by commenting below!
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