Morrocan winger Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez claims that he considered joining Arsenal in 2011.
You’d be forgiven for not knowing who Carcela-Gonzalez is, but once upon a time he was regarded as one of the most exciting talents in Europe.
Back in 2011, he was representing the Belgian national team and playing for Belgian side Standard Liege.
According to Sport Witness, Arsenal had identified him as their back-up choice in the event they weren’t able to sign Eden Hazard, who was a Lille player at the time.
As we all know, Hazard joined Chelsea and Arsenal had to look elsewhere.
Carcela-Gonzalez didn’t join Arsenal, either. He went on to play for Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala, who had just made Samuel Eto’o the highest paid player in world football.
The Morrocan recalled what happened that summer.
“In 2011, that was the time when I was hesitating between Belgium and Morocco. I’d received quite a few offers from Arsenal, Marseille and Benfica. Vicente del Bosque, Spain’s manager at the time, asked me to have a test with Spain’s U21s,” he told Sport/Foot (via Sport Witness).
“Real Madrid put a lot of pressure on me to choose either Spain or Belgium because they don’t like players leaving midseason for the Africa Cup of Nations. Negotiations were underway, then the accident happened.”
The ‘accident’ he refers to was an incident which saw him left with a fractured face after he was kicked by Chris Mavinga, who now plays in Toronto.
While Carcela-Gonzalez was having a tough time in Russia, Arsenal went on to sign another Lille player: a certain Gervinho.
The Ivorian wowed the Arsenal fans with his remarkable inconsistency and ability to run down blind alleys. Plus his now infamous miss at Bradford…
Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez, meanwhile, spent two years in Russia before returning to Standard Liege.
He went on to have spells at Benfica and Granada before joining his current club, Olympiakos. The 28-year-old grabbed five goals and one assist in 24 appearances last season.
Gervinho, meanwhile, now plays in China for Hebei China Fortune where he receives £165k-per-week with a £130k goal bonus and £50k appearance fee equalling £345k-per-week when he plays and scores just one.
The less we say about Eden Hazard, the better…