Antoine Griezmann was close to joining Arsenal in 2013, but for some reason, the club didn’t get the deal done.
The Atletico Madrid forward recently released an autobiography called Behind the Smile, and detailed an episode in 2013 when he came close to joining Arsenal.
The story goes that Griezmann’s former agent Eric Olhats had been contacted by Arsenal scout Giles Grimandi about Arsene Wenger’s interest in the forward, but nothing came of it.
The incident apparently soured Griezmann’s opinion of the club to the point where he would never consider signing for them.
Given what a player he became, this was a rather big goof from the club.
The episode allegedly occurred in the summer of 2013. However, a search for reports linking Griezmann to Arsenal at that time turned up no results.
There were, however, several reports linking him to the club in the build-up to the January transfer window. If Griezmann’s story is true, that move never had a chance of happening.
Either the dates were mixed up, or Arsenal’s interest that summer was very well disguised.
So if Arsenal were interested that summer, why didn’t they sign him?
It just so happened that Arsenal signed Mesut Ozil that summer. It’s possible that Wenger had wanted Griezmann to boost his attack but changed his mind the moment Ozil became available.
Griezmann didn’t find out that Arsenal wouldn’t be making a move until the final few hours of the window. At that point, Arsenal were in the process of completing the Ozil deal.
The two are very different players but back then, Griezmann was a left winger and not the centre forward he became at Atletico Madrid.
Hence, the claims that Arsenal opted to sign Yaya Sanogo instead aren’t entirely accurate.
We have to ask why Arsenal didn’t just buy both Griezmann and Ozil, but it’s likely that the finances weren’t available at the time.
It was certainly a missed opportunity, but it wasn’t as if Arsenal went without signing a top player that summer or the next.
As Griezmann eventually made the switch to Atletico Madrid, Arsenal signed a handy alternative called Alexis Sanchez.