The Brazil international was linked with the Gunners and their north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur before opting to join Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk in a £20m deal.
The 21-year-old, who has been capped 10 times by Brazil, has enjoyed a promising first season in Donetsk after scoring two goals in 25 appearances in all competitions.
“We had offers from Tottenham and, according to my Atletico president, Arsenal were interested too – but they didn’t have the money,” Bernard told Four Four Two.
“All of it happened in a moment in which Europe was facing a serious financial crisis, so while there was interest from various teams, the only one able to pay straight away was Shakhtar.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger spent a club-record £42.5m to bring Mesut Ozil to The Emirates from Real Madrid on the final day of the summer transfer window.
MORE: Man United latest news
MORE: Arsenal latest news
MORE: Chelsea latest news
MORE: Liverpool latest news