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.
2016 was a different time. Leicester City were champions of England, Arsenal were in the Champions League and Chelsea had scraped a top-half finish in the Premier League.
And once upon a time, Arsenal sought to go one better than their second-place finish that year by bidding for Foxes hero Jamie Vardy.
The move made some sense – Vardy had just fired Leicester to the unlikeliest of title triumphs and were the only ones standing in the way of runners-up Arsenal, who had seen their own challenge fade long before Tottenham’s slip-up gifted the Foxes their historic glory.
An approach in June 2016 saw the Gunners trigger the striker’s release clause, with Arsene Wenger looking for a more pragmatic solution to their goalscoring woes after seeing the title elude his side once again.
The 32-year-old went on to continue his marvellous goalscoring form in Leicester colours, hitting the 20-mark again in the 2017/18 season and became the first player to reach double figures this term after his recent strike against Crystal Palace.
He has scored against Arsenal more often than against any other side in his career – with eight in total following a brace against the Gunners back in April – and will undoubtedly be looking to improve on that this weekend.
Arsenal, meanwhile, turned to Deportivo striker Lucas Perez after being rebuffed by the Foxes man, with the Spaniard leaving the Emirates Stadium following just seven strikes in a dismal campaign that saw the Gunners fail to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 20 years.
Despite Alexis Sanchez topping Vardy’s Premier League tally by almost double in that year, Arsenal’s underachievement that season and to date – with Vardy and Leicester currently among the top four positions above the fifth-placed Gunners – has left their failed pursuit of the striker looking potentially a very costly one indeed.
And to think he only had to say yes after a £20m bid over three years ago, Arsenal may yet be ruing that near-miss to this day.
Will Arsenal qualify for the Champions League?
Arsenal fans, do you regret not signing Vardy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!