- Arsenal were interested in signing Premier League winner N’Golo Kante in 2016
- But the Gunners baulked at the excessive agent fees involved in the deal
- Chelsea eventually signed the Frenchman for a deal worth around £32million
- The Gunners would fill their midfield void with Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka
- Arsenal also failed to sign former England striker Jamie Vardy that same summer
The north London club were interested in signing the Frenchman in the summer of 2016 when he was still a Leicester City player.
The midfielder had just helped deliver a historic Premier League title for the Foxes, but it was Chelsea who would go on to sign Kante for a fee of £32million.
A few weeks before Kante’s move, Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal had confirmed the signing of Borussia Moenchengladbach and Switzerland midfielder Xhaka for £35million.
However, the Swiss’s move to Emirates Stadium only came after the Gunners pulled out of a deal for Kante, due to baulking at what they deemed excessive payment for the services of associated intermediaries.
And former Gunners transfer negotiator, Dick Law, hinted to The Athletic that a move for Kante was on the table until the plug was pulled by Arsenal.
‘When things reached an extreme, we tended to back away,’ Law said.
A Football Leaks has subsequently revealed the two agents involved in Kante’s transfer to west London pocketed a combined £10.6million, which even reportedly dissuaded Paris Saint-Germain from following up their interest.
Gregory Dakad received £6.4 million and Abdelkarim Douis went away with £4.2 million.
But 10 months later Kante had won his second successive Premier League title and the World Cup winner is now reportedly a £100million target for La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Xhaka meanwhile has struggled to consistently make his mark in north London, and even had the captaincy stripped off him by former boss Unai Emery after reacting to fans booing him off the field in Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace in October.
Law also revealed that Arsenal failed to capture Kante’s-then team-mate Jamie Vardy in the same summer.
‘The deal with Leicester was done, the deal with the player [Vardy] was done,’ said Law.
‘He came down to visit with his wife Rebekah, he sat on the couch in front of Arsene [Wenger]… and then he backed off.
‘On his way back to Leicester I get a call from the player saying he wants to think about it overnight. At that point, you know it’s bad news.’