Unai Emery has admitted he wanted to bring Fabinho to Arsenal before the Brazil international joined Liverpool.
The Gunners' head coach is a huge fan of the midfielder and tried to lure him from Monaco to Paris Saint-Germain while he was in charge at the Parc des Princes.
The move never materialised, however, but Emery maintained his interest and has now revealed that the 25-year-old was on his list of targets when he first arrived at the Emirates and sat down with former chief executive Ivan Gazidis in the summer of 2018.
A deal proved impossible, with Arsenal ultimately signing Lucas Torreira from Sampdoria, while Fabinho ended up at Anfield in a deal that cost £40 million ($51.5m).
The midfielder has since gone to become a key player in Jurgen Klopp’s side, but only after a period of adjustment which saw him have to wait until the end of October to earn his first Premier League start.
And Emery has used Fabinho as an example as to why Arsenal fans need to stay patient with club record signing Nicolas Pepe, who has struggled to make much of an impact since his £72 million ($93m) move from Lille in the summer.
“Pepe needs time to adapt to the Premier League,” said Emery. “For example, in France, I loved Fabinho a lot. He was at Monaco and I wanted to sign him for PSG.
“When I arrived here [at Arsenal], his name was on the table to try to sign him, but he signed for Liverpool.
“The first six months he didn’t play, it was adaptation. But now he is amazing and I want the same with Pepe.”
Pepe has scored just once for Arsenal in his first 11 appearances for the club, a penalty during the 3-2 win against Aston Villa at the Emirates.
The Ivory Coast international is still searching for his first goal from open play and on Monday night he wasted a golden opportunity to find the net during the 1-0 defeat at Sheffield United.
With the match still goalless, Pepe miscued horribly in front of goal after being set up by Sead Kolasinac and it proved to be a costly miss, with Arsenal going on to lose for only the second time this season.
But Emery continues to back the winger to make the type of impact which convinced the club to smash their transfer record to bring him in from France.
“We need patience,” he said. “Pepe is improving. On Monday, the key to win was with him. If he scores the first goal, it’s different.
“But it’s one process and I believe in him and I know he needs time and patience.”