In the final days of the Arsene Wenger era, frustration was spreading throughout the Emirates Stadium.
And it wasn’t just the almost-annual collapses that fuelled the fire of an increasingly militant ‘Wenger Out’ brigade. At a time when the most vocal supporters were desperate for big-name, big-money signings, the legendary Arsenal boss seemed to see things from a completely different perspective.
So much so that, when a fresh-faced Memphis Depay became available after inspiring PSV Eindhoven to the Eredivisie title, Wenger’s stance only widened the chasm between manager and fans.
At the time, the explosive Dutchman looked like one of the most talented young attackers on the planet; a man capable of turning Arsenal from perennial nearly-men into title-winners once again.
But Wenger, much to the fury of the Gunners faithful, opened the door for Premier League rivals Manchester United to secure a £30 million deal instead in the summer of 2015 (BBC).
“I like the player but in that position we have plenty,” Wenger would tell the Mirror. “(Depay) plays wide and we have seven or eight players who can play there.”
True, Arsenal did have Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at the time.
But it is impossible to imagine that Depay, even if things didn’t quite work out at Old Trafford, would not have represented a substantial upgrade on an injury-prone Danny Welbeck or perennial loanee Joel Campbell.
While Wenger might not have seen the need to bring Depay to north London, it seems his former captain sees things rather differently.
Le10 Sport claims that Mikel Arteta is a huge fan of a prolific wideman who is now the undisputed talisman of Lyon and the Dutch national team, scoring 14 goals in 18 matches this season while silencing those who questioned his attitude and application.
The report adds that Depay, whose contract expires in 2021, could potentially replace Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Alexandre Lacazette at the Emirates.
And if Arsenal do pull off a deal for one of the most influential forwards in Europe, Arteta’s aggressive, decisive approach to the transfer market would feel like a welcome, and long overdue, change.