ARSENE WENGER did everything he could to try and persuade Jamie Vardy to join Arsenal in 2016.
The Gunners triggered the £20million release clause in his Leicester City contract immediately after the Foxes won the Premier League.
Arsene Wenger could not convince Jamie Vardy to ditch Leicester for Arsenal in 2016Credit: Getty Images – Getty
But despite a meeting between the ex-Arsenal boss and the striker following Euro 2016, Wenger could not convince Vardy to make the move to the Emirates.
Asked how close he was to signing Vardy, the Frenchman told Richard Keys: “I offered him a lot of money at the time.
“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.”
Dick Law, Arsenal’s transfer negotiator at the time, revealed how the deal broke down.
He told The Athletic: “The deal with Leicester was done, the deal with the player was done.
“He came down to visit with his wife Rebekah, he sat on the couch in front of Arsene…and then he backed off.”
One of the major things to consider for Vardy – who had recently married and expecting their second child – was Arsenal’s possession-based style of play.
Vardy told SunSport at the time: “I tried to work out the pros and cons.
“With people like Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil creating chances, Arsenal felt they could benefit me as much as I could them.
“But I also thought about the tactical aspect.
“You look at Arsenal’s style of play and they don’t get the ball forward quickly in the same way Leicester do for those runs I like to make in behind the defence.
“We even looked at new schools for the children, but I got to the stage where I felt with my heart and head that I wanted to stay at Leicester.”
Wenger acknowledges Arsenal did not play the same counter-attacking football that brought Vardy so much joy under Claudio Ranieri.
But he also believes the striker’s quality around the box would have been perfect for the Gunners, as he has demonstrated by winning the Golden Boot under Brendan Rodgers.
He added on beIN Sports: “We had more of the ball, yes, but still around the box, the timings of his runs, he finds the space.
“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.”
Vardy has an incredible record of 11 goals in 12 appearances against Arsenal – including five in his last four, with the Foxes unbeaten in each.
And he continued his remarkable record against the so-called ‘Big Six’ with Leicester’s second in the 3-1 win over Liverpool on Saturday.
Wenger continued: “Phenomenal, he’s always in the game. He looks like he doesn’t get mentally out the game.
“The great strikers I like are convinced somewhere they will score at some stage. That allows them, even when he misses a chance, to stay in the game.”
⚽ Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds
Vardy has 11 goals in 12 games against Arsenal, including six in seven when Wenger was in chargeCredit: PA:Empics Sport
The pair had a meeting after Euro 2016 but Vardy ‘backed out’ of a move and stayed on at the King PowerCredit: Rex Features