Mikel Arteta has explained why Arsenal didn't push to seal a deal for Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho, who is now shining on loan at Aston Villa.
Coutinho returned to the Premier League four years on from his £121 million ($159m) move to Barca from Liverpool in January as Villa signed the midfielder on a six-month loan.
The 29-year-old has rediscovered his best form to help Villa rise back into the top half of the table, and will likely be in Steven Gerrard's squad when they host Arsenal on Saturday.
What has been said?
Coutinho was linked with a number of other clubs before his switch to Villa, including Arsenal, who reportedly first expressed an interest in the Brazilian last summer.
Arteta has now confirmed that the Gunners explored Coutinho's availability while looking for extra creative options, with a permanent deal for former Real Madrid winger Martin Odegaard eventually closed instead.
"We looked at many different players with quality that he obviously had and in the end, we went for a different option," said the Spanish boss.
Coutinho's bright start at Villa
Coutinho has already appeared in nine Premier League games for Villa, scoring four goals, including one on his debut against Manchester United on January 15.
The Barca loanee has three assists already too, and Arteta is wary of the threat he will pose his Arsenal side as they chase down Champions League qualification.
Asked if Coutinho is Villa's main dangerman, Arteta said: "One of them. Obviously the team does a lot of things when he's on the ball and he's in dangerous areas and he has contributed to a lot in their attacking phase, so obviously it's something we have to bear in mind.
"His ability to create goals and to create chances, unlock spaces when they don't exist and that's the quality he had when he was at Liverpool."