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.
Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez has recently revealed that he was very close to joining Arsenal in the summer of 2016 – just after he had helped Leicester City to their remarkable title triumph.
In an interview with France Football (via Sky Sports), the Algeria international let out his frustrations over being blocked from leaving the Foxes – who had allowed N’Golo Kante to join Chelsea that same summer – by claiming he missed out on two years of top-level football.
Leicester were unable to repeat their heroics and were in danger of relegation by the time they had sacked Claudio Ranieri in February 2017.
Arsenal – runners-up in the year Mahrez had taken their interest – would be forgiven for feeling regretful considering how their own following year panned out, particularly after also failing to bring in Jamie Vardy from the King Power Stadium, too.
The Gunners ended up neglecting their efforts to bolster their wings, despite allowing the likes of Joel Campbell and Serge Gnabry to leave the club in the off-season.
What followed was their lowest league finish under Arsene Wenger (at the time), with 17 of Alexis Sanchez’s 30 goals coming in a centre-forward role, while Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi made up Arsenal’s only other senior wide options in attack.
So it seems the Gunners certainly could have done with Mahrez, and having been directly involved in 24 Manchester City goals in their treble-winning campaign (including winners against Spurs, Watford and Bournemouth), it is arguable the 28-year-old played an integral role in Guardiola’s side retaining the title – a further price that the Gunners had to pay thanks to Leicester’s stubborn stance three years prior.
After scoring in the game that sealed City’s second successive league crown, perhaps Mahrez can start to put his frustrations of the preceding two campaigns behind him, though Arsenal may continue to wonder what might have been.
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Arsenal fans, how different do you think things would be if you brought in Mahrez three years ago? Let us know what you think below!Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!