Arsene Wenger has revealed that Arsenal were very close to signing Manchester City's Yaya Toure after the Ivorian international trialled with the Gunners in the summer of 2005.
The younger brother of then Gunners first team defender Kolo Toure, the ASEC Mimosas protégé suffered passport problems despite impressing Wenger and was eventually snapped up by Olympiacos from Belgian club Beveren that same summer.
Toure has since secured himself an impressive status as one of Europe’s most canny central midfielders with a career which has taken in stints in Monaco, Barcelona and now City.
Reflecting on the missed opportunity to sign Toure, Arsene Wenger told Arsenal TV Online:
“We were very close. He has some trials here and we had an agreement with Beveren at the time he played there. We were very close.
Asked what stopped the deal, Wenger continued:
“Passport, passport. At the time he did not play with the national team, he was very young and couldn’t play for us. We needed patience to get a Belgian passport.”
Toure is now expected to play alongside his brother against Wenger’s Arsenal this Sunday as the second and third sides in the Premier League clash at Eastlands.