Arsenal fans complaining about Arsene Wenger's lack of big-name signings in the past will cringe upon hearing that their team came perilously close to signing Chelsea sensation Eden Hazard back in 2012.
As reported by The Daily Mail's Charlie Skillen, Wenger told beIN Sports the player's agent was at his home to discuss a deal before the Blues swooped in and made the kind of offer Arsenal simply couldn't:
Yes, I wanted to take him, I had his agent at my home but again the barrier was financial and Chelsea made an effort that I couldn't make.
He can be one of the players who grows into the Messi, Ronaldo stature if he continues to develop well.
Claiming Hazard has the potential to grow into a player of the stature of Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi is high praise from the Arsenal boss, but following the Belgian international's fantastic season for Chelsea, it's hard to argue with such a statement.
Hazard was nominated for the PFA Player of the Year Award and took home the trophy for best young player, and as shared by Squawka, he has been very influential for his team this season:
Eden Hazard (87), Luis Suarez (85) & David Silva (81) have created the most chances in the EPL this season. #AskSquawka @NonFlyingIcema— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 2, 2014
Gunner fans can only imagine what their team would look like with the Belgian as a part of their starting XI. With the versatility to play every attacking spot in midfield or as a wide man in a 4-3-3, Hazard would give any team in the world an extra creative dimension.
Wenger's contract with Arsenal is set to run out this summer. And amidst rumours a two-year deal would be all but wrapped up and Wenger confirming he expects to be with the club next year, as reported by The Mirror's John Cross, the French manager is yet to officially sign a new deal.
Commenting in Skillen's article on a potential future away from the club, Wenger stated he would not be particularly interested in a position with another Premier League club as his connection to Arsenal is simply too great. A move to the Bundesliga could be appealing, however:
If I was to go somewhere then I think it would be in a different country because I am so much Arsenal that I would not like to coach anywhere else in England.
Germany [is an option] because I am of German culture a little bit and it's a country where I have never worked and I am very close to it.
The Bundesliga's tendency to rely on home-grown players and smart signings in largely untapped markets like Poland and Croatia certainly sounds like a situation Wenger could thrive in, but it is difficult to imagine him with a different club than Arsenal.
While the occasion may not have been the most joyous, Wenger did celebrate his 1,000th match as manager of Arsenal this season, a rare feat at a time where the average coach seems to be given less than a handful of months to prove his worth.
There may be plenty of Arsenal fans clamoring for change, doubting whether Wenger would be the right choice for the future. But fans of less-fortunate clubs would be more than happy to employ the manager who almost single-handedly made Arsenal into what they are today:
Hearing the Wenger deal is looking very likely. Pray he'll change or the next two years will be depressing.— Le Grove (@LeGrove) April 13, 2014
Besides, with Wenger in the Bundesliga, English football would be missing out on so many great coat-related puns and glorious tweets, like this one from Jan Aage Fjortoft:
ungrateful fans at Arsenal,you chase Wenger out .We at Spurs will have him any day of the week.Please do your best we have a contract ready— Lord Sugar (@Lord_Sugar) May 6, 2014
With so many voices claiming Wenger will be managing Arsenal for the next two seasons and the manager himself already making statements about the upcoming summer transfer window, along with his desire to keep compatriot Bacary Sagna at the club, per Goal's George Ankers, it seems unlikely Wenger will be leaving the club anytime soon.
Piers Morgan and his fellow critics may not like it, but Wenger has become the face of Arsenal to the point where it has become almost impossible to think of one without the other. That marriage looks like it's set to continue for at least another two years.
If the club manages to defeat Hull City and hoist the FA Cup at the end of the season, the naysayers will have one less argument against the Frenchman's continued employment in the capital city.