Wenger's dream Van Persie and Mata combination could finally be realised... at Manchester United

Arsenal tried to sign Juan Mata in 2011, only to see him sign for Chelsea. Now could he join former Gunner at Manchester United?

One of the chief annoyances of Arsenal fans in the transfer market in recent years, is not just losing their best players, but missing out on potential golden ones too.

None more so than Spanish wizard Juan Mata, who came close to being signed by the Gunners back in 2011.

Arsenal had a chance to buy him in 2011 when his buyout clause stood at €25 million, but delays over the Cesc Fabregas sale meant they hesitated and missed out.

Previously, The Mail had even claimed that Arsenal had agreed to pay the asking price, and a deal was imminent.

Weeks later he headed to Chelsea instead, and has gone onto become one of the club's leading lights; until now at least.

And what a signing he could have been for the Gunners. Arsene Wenger saw him linking up with star striker Robin van Persie, who plundered an astonishing 37 goals in 2011/12.

Mata himself at Chelsea scored 12 goals and provided 17 assists in his first season. You can only wonder what his assists column would have looked like had he been linking up with the ruthless Van Persie rather than the blunt Fernando Torres.

Van Persie then left Arsenal, claiming the club was not meeting his ambition. Could it have been different if Arsenal had pulled off a deal for Spanish sensation Mata the season before? Could it have ended their silverware drought? We will never know, but it is fair to say both would have been more likely.

Now the crazy final fortnight of the transfer window is throwing up a possibility that the pair could be united, at Manchester United.

Signing Juan Mata is said to be the only way the Red Devils will consider selling Wayne Rooney to Chelsea, and while Jose Mourinho said publicly he liked Mata in his press conference today, and wanted to keep his best players; it was interesting to note he did not rule out a sale with the same passion or defiance Moyes has with regard to Rooney.

Chelsea are on the verge of signing Willian, adding depth to an already crowded set of positions behind the striker, which includes Hazard, Schurrle, De Bruyne, Oscar and even Moses.

Mata did not start the opening game of the season, and importantly, Rooney gives Chelsea impact in the one position they crave, up front.

Fans might not be happy, but it certainly appears to be a consideration at present, and if United insist on a deal to be done that way and that way only, it could just get done.

Few could argue that there would be a better tandem of Mata and Van Persie, even Hazard and Rooney at Chelsea would have to go some to outdo them.

Arsenal fans meanwhile will be left simply wondering what could have been, if Mata and Van Persie get the chance to hit it off.

image: © Ben Sutherland

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