Francis Cagigao admits he wanted to sign Jude Bellingham for Arsenal, but the player was already too expensive by that stage.
Former Arsenal Head of International Recruitment Francis Cagigao spoke to Spanish outlet AS this week on a number of topics, including highly-rated midfielder Jude Bellingham.
Reflecting on Bellingham’s initial breakthrough in senior football, Cagigao says by the time he wanted to sign the midfielder for Arsenal, he was already out of their price range.
“I saw him for the first time when he was 16 years old,” Cagigao recalled. “I wanted to sign him for Arsenal, but he was already too expensive.
“He is very good. What is clear is that if they have paid that amount for Enzo (Fernandez, who cost €120m+), it will also be paid for Bellingham.”
At just 17 years old, Bellingham joined Borussia Dortmund for €25m. Though not a huge fee compared to the business clubs like Arsenal do most summers, it would easily be the most they’d ever spent on a player under the age of 18.
Arsenal’s record transfer for an under-18 was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, whom they signed for £12-15m at 17 from Southampton.
But Dortmund’s €25m investment is going to pay dividends, as they look set to bring in well over £100m for Bellingham’s transfer three years after signing him.
Last month, James McNicholas reported that Bellingham is admired by Arsenal’s recruitment department, but there are significant obstacles to any potential deal for the player.
Dortmund believe Bellingham is worth as much as €150m (£132m), well clear of Arsenal’s club-record transfer fee.
Even with a return to the Champions League, that fee and Bellingham’s wages would be a stretch.
Arsenal are also a long way behind the competition in trying to convince the player to join, with Liverpool and Real Madrid putting in a lot of work already to convince the midfielder to pick them.
Arsenal are likely to be considerable underdogs if they made a move for Bellingham this summer.