ARSENAL refused the chance to sign £100million-rated Liverpool sensation Sadio Mane for just £4million in 2012.
The Senegal winger has been a key cog in Jurgen Klopp’s Anfield machine.
Mane, 26, was a £34m Kop buy from Southampton in 2016, and has scored 17 goals this Prem season to inspire the Reds towards a potential Premier League and Champions League double.
His mentor Mady Toure has revealed Arsenal, then under Arsene Wenger, could have snapped him up for much cheaper, much earlier, before he signed for Red Bull Salzburg for £3.6m after the Gunners’ snub.
He said: “Arsenal refused to take up the option to sign Sadio Mane in 2012. After the Olympic Games that year I recommended him to Gilles Grimandi, who was Arsenal’s scout in France.
‘DIDN’T FOLLOW ADVICE’
“At that time Mane was playing for Metz, who had just been relegated to the third division.
“But Grimandi didn’t follow up on my advice, even though the agent Thierno Seydi got involved.
“A few years later I reminded Arsene Wenger about it when he was still Arsenal manager.”
Mane now joins an incredible list of players Arsenal ‘could’ have signed, which includes the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in an incredible Nearly XI.
Goalkeeper – Gianluigi Buffon
Juventus icon came close to joining the Gunners in 2011.
Defender – Gerard Pique
Arsene Wenger wanted to bring La Masia product Pique to North London at the same time as Cesc Fabregas, and was incredibly close to doing so before a failed work permit scuppered the deal.
Defender – Virgil Van Dijk
Emirates side blew the chance to sign Prem’s best defender because they thought he was “too nonchalant”, according to ex-Celtic assistant manager John Collins.
Defender – Raphael Varane
“He was at Lens, and we might well have caught him there,” said Wenger in 2013.
Midfielder – N’Golo Kante
Arsenal looked into a move for energetic midfielder before Leicester snapped him up for just £5.6m in August 2015.
Midfielder – Paul Pogba
Wenger said in 2014: “We were interested in him. We tried to get him to come here, but he very quickly signed for Juventus.”
Winger – Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo had been shown around Arsenal’s London Colney training complex, while a £4million deal was agreed for the 18-year-old.
But after the skillful youngster gave the United defence the run-around in a friendly against Sporting Lisbon, Sir Alex Ferguson made sure that the Portuguese headed for Old Trafford.
Winger – Gareth Bale
Arsenal were monitoring the progress of Welsh superstar Gareth Bale at the same time as Theo Walcott while the pair were at Southampton.
Wenger said it was a “huge mistake” not snapping him up.
Forward – Lionel Messi
Arsenal had offered the Argentine a contract at the end of the 2002/03 season.
Forward – Kylian Mbappe
Wenger held talks with World Cup winner over a switch prior to his £165m PSG move.
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Forward – Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Arsenal came close to signing the then 19-year-old Ibrahimovic while he was still at Malmo, but the striker didn’t respond well to being asked to play in a trial match.
“No way, Zlatan doesn’t do auditions,” the player bragged.