ARSENE WENGER snubbed a chance to buy Leicester superstar Riyad Mahrez because the £400,000 fee was too cheap.
The Arsenal boss feared he would get more flak for being stingy again – only to see the Algeria winger play a key role in Leicester’s remarkable season that has them on the brink of claiming the Premier League title.
Mahrez, who joined the Foxes from Le Havre in January 2014, is a hot tip to take out the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year award on Sunday.
Wenger said: “We live in a strange society.
“If I sign a player for £400,000 before he plays people will say, ‘What is that, that is not serious for Arsenal’.
… If you say we signed a player for £40million they will think he is really good.”
But it gets worse for Arsenal fans … it was revealed they also missed out on Leicester’s midfield enforcer N’Golo Kante.
He moved from Caen for £5.6m during the summer.
And Wenger said: “It has not surprised me how well he has done – because one of my best friends knows him since he was 10, and he spoke to me about him.
“We went to watch him and saw he had quality. But I didn’t know he would come so quickly to England.”
Wenger’s confession about Mahrez in particular is a remarkable one and will give further ammunition to Arsenal fans who want to see the Frenchman replaced at the end of the season.
It shows the supporters feelings are clearly getting to Wenger and affecting his decision-making.
If he believes a player is good enough, it shouldn’t enter his mind what fans or critics think of the fee.
Not signing a player because he’s too expensive is one thing, but passing him by because fans will think he’s too cheap … dear, oh dear.