Match of the Day host Gary Lineker believes Arsenal have acquired the "wrong scout" from his former side Leicester City in Ben Wrigglesworth, as he attributed the captures of Foxes stars Riyad Mahrez and N'Golo Kante to assistant manager and head of recruitment Steve Walsh.
Lineker's full comments were noted by Sam Cunningham of the Daily Mail:
I love how Arsenal nicked the wrong scout. Steve Walsh is the guy who found these players and brought them in. I know when he found Mahrez he was sent to watch someone else and came back with him.
He’d done a brilliant job and that’s been the large key to Leicester’s success. As in all clubs, it’s about the people you bring in and they've done it on a relatively small budget compared with the giants.
Per Cunningham, Arsenal recruited Wrigglesworth—who was head of technical scouting at the King Power Stadium—believing him to be the man behind Leicester's magnificent work in the transfer market following the success of players such as Kante and Mahrez.
Lineker was quick to correct Arsenal on their mistake, though:
Oops! Think you'll find that Steve Walsh was largely responsible for spotting Mahrez et al. https://t.co/aqfa250oUo— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) February 8, 2016
With the Foxes leading the Premier League title charge—after performing a miraculous escape from relegation last season—their scouting is rightly receiving plenty of attention.
Mahrez was drafted in from Le Havre for just £400,000 in 2014, and he has had a stunning impact this season as Squawka Football revealed:
Riyad Mahrez is the first Premier League player to reach double figures in goals (14) & assists (10) in 2015/16. pic.twitter.com/LFMfaczbqz— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 6, 2016
The winger's pace, creativity and impressive finishing will no doubt make him one of the most coveted players in the Premier League this summer, and his partnership with in-form striker Jamie Vardy could fire the Foxes to an unprecedented title win. Football writer Liam Canning has been impressed:
Riyad Mahrez is purely sensational. He can dribble, shoot, pass; so creative in attack.— Liam (@OffsideLiam) February 6, 2016
Kante has largely kept the illustrious midfielder out of the team, though, thanks to his incredible work rate and ability to recover possession for his side. Canning ran the rule over the 24-year-old:
The amount of ground Kanté covers is absolutely silly. A midfield powerhouse.— Liam (@OffsideLiam) December 14, 2015
Not many – including myself – had seen N'golo Kanté before he joined Leicester. This season he's been the best ball-winning midfielder.— Liam (@OffsideLiam) February 6, 2016
Lineker singled him out as the best capture made by any Premier League side last summer:
Many deserved plaudits for Vardy & Mahrez, but if there has been a better signing than Kante this season, I haven't seen him.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) December 14, 2015
Arsenal were undoubtedly hoping for Wrigglesworth to help them make similarly shrewd but impactful purchases—and of course, the 24-year-old still can.
However, the claim that they perhaps haven't got who they were hoping for will certainly soften the blow for Leicester, who will equally be wanting to make further gains in the transfer market this summer—perhaps as champions of England.