Arsenal were linked with Raheem Sterling once it emerged that he was looking to leave Liverpool, but Arsène Wenger has admitted he should’ve snapped him up much earlier.
Back in 2010, Sterling was playing for QPR and was signed by Liverpool for £600,000. The rest, as they say, is history. As a teenager in London, Sterling was watched by Arsenal scouts but the club didn’t act fast enough and Liverpool made the signing.
Back in the summer, Arsène Wenger didn’t even enter a bidding war with Manchester City, who signed the England international for £49m.
“We had many players on the flanks,” the manager explained. “But when Sterling was at QPR – that’s where we should take the players.”
It’s something Arsenal seem willing to rectify. In recent seasons Gedion Zelalem, Serge Gnabry and Dan Crowley have all been signed at a very young age, with Arsenal making sure they don’t wait too long to snap up young talent.
Current first team starter Héctor Bellerín joined at 16, and the likes of Vlad Dragomir, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Yassin Fortune and Ismael Bennacer were added in the summer. It’s not easy to predict which players will develop enough to make it at the very top, but the Gunners are no longer taking any chances.
“We watched (Sterling) but you miss obvious players,” Wenger added. “The history of every club is full of top players that you missed.
“At the time Liverpool were quicker.”
Sterling will be playing against Arsenal on Monday night, and poses one of the biggest threats to the Gunners’ hopes of winning the Premier League this season. The club do, however, seem to have learnt from the past. In years to come, Reine-Adelaide and co. may well be worth £50m and find themselves courted by every club in Europe, so it’s worth signing them early in case they explode.
Maybe missing out on Sterling has helped Arsenal in the long run.