Arsene Wenger admits to having “offered a lot of money” to take Jamie Vardy to Arsenal in 2016, but his advances were rebuffed and the Gunners missed out on one of the Premier League’s most prolific strikers.
An enigmatic character on the Foxes’ books attracted admiring glances from north London after helping to deliver a remarkable Premier League title triumph to the King Power Stadium.
Vardy had shown himself to be more than capable of mixing it with English football’s elite, making him of obvious appeal to any number of rivals, but a switch to north London could never be pushed through.
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What has been said?
Asked on beIN Sports how close he came to signing Vardy during his time at Arsenal, Wenger said: “I offered him a lot of money at the time.
“Leicester had just won the championship in 2016, and [Vichai] Srivaddhanaprabha at the time, who unfortunately after had the helicopter accident, did absolutely not want to lose him and they offered him a longer contract and approximately the same money, if not more.”
Wenger added when quizzed on whether Vardy would have fit his system: “We had more of the ball, yes, but still around the box, the timings of his runs, he finds the space.
“When you see the big strikers, they’re on the move when others stand still in the box, and he has that.
“You see they read (the game) earlier than others, they anticipate better, they understand quicker than other people what’s going on, and (he has) that quality of anticipation, that speed of understanding.”
Why did Arsenal want Vardy?
In the 2015-016 campaign, which was only Vardy’s second on a Premier League stage, Leicester stormed to the most unexpected of title successes.
Their No.9 led that charge, with the target found on 24 occasions.
Arsenal’s leading marksman that season, Olivier Giroud, matched that overall return but only managed 16 efforts in the league.
Wenger wanted a different type of frontman, one that could run in behind and move opposition defences around, but he saw Vardy commit to fresh terms at the King Power Stadium.
Former Arsenal transfer fixer, Dick Law, has claimed in the recent past that the Gunners had an agreement in place, only for the player to have a change of heart.
He told The Athletic in April 2020: “The deal with Leicester was done, the deal with the player was done.
“He came down to visit with his wife Rebekah, he sat on the couch in front of Arsene… and then he backed off.
“On his way back to Leicester I get a call from the player saying he wants to think about it overnight. At that point, you know it's bad news.”
The bigger picture
Vardy has gone on to take his tally of goals for Leicester to 144 in 333 appearances.
Of those efforts, 115 have come in the Premier League – making him one of 29 centurions in the English top flight.
He signed his latest contract extension with the Foxes in 2020, with a three-year agreement set to keep him in the East Midlands beyond his 36th birthday.