Arsene Wenger has blamed Arsenal's lack of financial power for the reason he missed out on Eden Hazard in 2012.
The PFA Young Player of the Year joined Chelsea from Lille in a £32m deal two years ago and has since gone on to develop into one of the most exciting footballers in the world.
Currently Hazard is being linked with a move away from Chelsea but even though Jose Mourinho would be reluctant to sell, the Blues would likely be able to double their original outlay.
Before moving the Chelsea, Hazard had been linked with a move to Arsenal but Wenger instead opted to sign his Lille team-mate Gervinho. At £11m, he was considerably cheaper but the Ivory Coast international has since left the Emirates after failing to adapt to the Premier League.
Wenger has now revealed that a deal for Hazard, who was just 21 at the time, was close to sealing a move to Arsenal but Chelsea's financial might overpowered the Gunners in the end.
“Yes, I wanted to take him, I had his agent at my home but again the barrier was financial and Chelsea made an effort that I couldn’t make,” Wenger said in an interview with beIN SPORTS.
It seems that Wenger's admiration for the Belgium international has only grown since his move to Stamford Bridge. So highly does Wenger rate him that the Arsenal manager mentioned him in the same breath as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Wenger said on Hazard: “He can be one of the players who grows into the [Lionel] Messi, [Cristiano] Ronaldo stature if he continues to develop well.”
Arsenal may even get the opportunity to sign Hazard this summer as he is reportedly unhappy at Stamford Bridge under Mourinho. He angered the manager by suggesting that the team relies too heavily on his creativity while Mourinho needs to generate cash to fund an overhaul of the squad.