Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he did everything in his power to bring Jamie Vardy to the club.
After firing Leicester (opens in new tab) to the Premier League title in 2015/16, Vardy came close to moving to the Emirates Stadium.
However, the ex-England international ultimately decided to stay put by signing a new deal with the Foxes.
And Wenger claims to have “offered a lot of money” to bring Vardy to north London.
“I offered him a lot of money at the time,” the Frenchman told beIN Sports (opens in new tab).
“Leicester had just won the championship in 2016, and [Vichai] Srivaddhanaprabha at the time, who unfortunately after had the helicopter accident, did absolutely not want to lose him and they offered him a longer contract and approximately the same money, if not more.”
Vardy scored against Liverpool (opens in new tab) on Saturday to take his Premier League goals tally to 115.
The striker is at his best when running in behind, and there were doubts whether his style would suit a possession-based team like Wenger’s Arsenal (opens in new tab).
But the former Gunners boss believes Vardy would have found a way to adapt had he joined the club.
“We had more of the ball, yes, but still around the box, the timings of his runs, he finds the space,” Wenger said.
“When you see the big strikers, they’re on the move when others stand still in the box, and he has that.
“You see they read [the game] earlier than others, they anticipate better, they understand quicker than other people what’s going on, and [he has] that quality of anticipation, that speed of understanding.”
Wenger was in charge of Arsenal for 22 years, with plenty of players coming and going during that time.
And the Frenchman, who currently works as FIFA’s head of global football, had one name in mind when asked which player he regretted selling the most.
“I would say at the start when I arrived, the players I sold had at least given a longer period to the club like Patrick Vieira, like Thierry Henry, who had stayed eight, nine years at the club,” Wenger said.
“They’d given their best to the club. Of course, you’d like to keep them but I could understand it.
“They told me ‘we have a young team now, we can’t win a championship with a young team, I want to go and finish my career by winning.’
“But, after we sold the younger players like [Cesc] Fabregas – 24 and 25 [years old]. So we would have loved to have kept these players.”
“For example, yes,” he added when asked to clarify if Fabregas was the player he regretted selling the most.
“Many of them, Kolo Toure, Fabregas, Van Persie, they all left when they were younger.”
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