Spartak Moscow midfielder Jano Ananidze, currently on loan at Krylia Sovetov Samara, reveals Arsenal made an offer for him as a teenager.
Ananidze is now 26, but as a teenager, he was drawing interest from all over Europe. He became the youngest player ever to score in the Russian Premier League just days after his 17th birthday, and there were rumours of interest from Arsenal and Liverpool at the time.
Spartak Moscow sporting director Dmitri Popov denied the rumours and said they wouldn’t sell until the player was at least in his twenties. However, Ananidze recently revealed in an interview with Championat (via Mirror) that the offer from Arsenal was real, and Spartak were just keeping it a secret from him.
“There’s been interest in me from other countries,” Ananidze said. “I recently found out that an offer came from Arsenal, but they didn’t even tell me about it. But from those requests that are known, I will highlight Valencia, then they were a top team.
“But Spartak decided that I did not leave. Yes, and in 18/19 I decided that I did not want to leave.”
As with so many talented youth prospects, Ananidze struggled to reach his potential in part thanks to injuries. From 2017 to 2019 alone he spent 344 days out with knee problems, an ankle injury and a cruciate ligament rupture. He returned to provide an assist in his first league game back with Spartak in December, before leaving on loan.
Perhaps things would have all turned out differently if the midfielder had ended up at Arsenal all those years ago, but it wasn’t meant to be.