Arsene Wenger: How Arsenal could have signed Man United star

Arsene Wenger says Arsenal came close to signing Angel di Maria when he was 17

Arsene Wenger has revealed how Arsenal failed in their attempts to sign Angel di Maria as a teenager but were unable to obtain a work permit.

The Gunners boss says that the north London club were keen to bring the Argentina international to the Premier League but could not push through the required paperwork.

Di Maria eventually joined Real Madrid before his club-record £60m transfer to Manchester United from the La Liga side last summer.

And Wenger has lifted the lid on why the Gunners were not able to bring a teenage Di Maria to north London.

“We had identified Di María when he was 17,” Wenger told an Arsenal news conference.

“We wanted him to come here. But he goes to Portugal and from Portugal he goes to Spain. Why? Because he could not get a work permit.

“That means that he can only come to England once he’s worth a huge amount of money. What does it mean if at the end of the day he comes into the country anyway, with the only difference being it’s for a huge amount of money. And who do you pay that to? A club like Real Madrid, who don’t need the money.”

Di Maria, who helped Argentina reach the World Cup final in Brazil last summer, has scored three goals and made six assists in 14 Premier League games for United this season.

He has missed a number of games in recent weeks due to a hamstring complaint but played the full 90 minutes as United ran our 2-0 winners over Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road last weekend.

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