- Former Gunner Grimandi makes big admission
- Arsenal pursued Mbappe before stardom
- But couldn't get a deal done
WHAT HAPPENED? Grimandi, who worked as an Arsenal scout for 13 years, has made a major claim that the club were chasing a young Mbappe long before his ascent to superstardom. Mbappe, at just 24 years of age, is already a World Cup winner and is revered as one of the best players in world football. But according to Grimandi, he could've been wearing an Arsenal shirt at one point, as the club held talks with the player before he joined Monaco's academy ranks.
WHAT THEY SAID: "The job of scouting is about finding but also missing players. For me, it is Kylian Mbappe. We just could not convince him," Grimandi told The Sun. "He was out of contract in June 2013 and we met him in February. If we could have convinced him to join, he would have changed the club — but he then decided on Monaco."
The former Arsenal defender added: "Arsenal were not always playing their best so it was quite complicated. At first it was easy, as soon as we talked to a player he wanted to sign it. However, if you are not getting results it is difficult to bring top players to help the team. That’s why it is important to stay at the top for as long as possible. It is so much easier. Yet the likes of Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah, who I watched develop, prove you should never forget the talent you have inside your club, even in difficult times."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Born and raised in Paris, Mbappe began his career with local side AS Bondy. But in his teens, he was already being eyed by the likes of Real Madrid and Chelsea, as well as Arsenal, before deciding to sign for Monaco. His rapid rise through their ranks resulted in a €180m transfer to Paris Saint-Germain, where he has already become the club's second all-time top scorer.
The Frenchman had long been linked with a move to Real Madrid and came incredibly close to making the switch last summer, but ultimately stayed in the French capital, penning fresh terms on a mega-money contract. In that time, Arsenal have laboured and stagnated in the Premier League, but this season find themselves top of the table and are strongly contending for their first title in almost 20 years.
IN THREE PHOTOS:Getty ImagesGetty Images
WHAT NEXT FOR MBAPPE? The imperious French forward came mightily close to carrying his nation to a second successive World Cup crown in 2022, but is now focused on club football once again after losing the final to Argentina. However, he is currently nursing an injury and is expected to miss the first leg of PSG's Champions League last 16 tie against Bayern Munich.