Demba Ba has again revealed that he came close to signing for Arsenal whilst at Chelsea and admitted Jose Mourinho was willing to sell him to the Gunners this summer.
The Senegalese striker took on Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier this week, proving a constant threat for the Turkish side, but ultimately failing to make the required impact.
Arsenal deal close
If Ba had scored, Arsenal would have crashed out of the Champions League and Arsene Wenger would have been left wondering what could have been had his efforts to sign the striker gone through. Ba recalled just how close he came to becoming a Gunner and admitted he wanted the move.
"I'm happy at Besiktas," he told reporters after the game. "How close did I come to joining Arsenal? As close as you and me here, but it's past. I just look forwards.
"Everybody knew that I wanted to come here [to Arsenal]. I could have maybe waited longer in this transfer window but I wanted to go and play for Besiktas because it's a great club."
Arsenal failed to land the striker because Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho pulled the plug on the deal at the 11th hour. Having sealed Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid, Mourinho feared Ba would make them genuine contenders for the title. With Arsenal going on to spend 128 days at the summit of the Premier League last season, the Special One had a point.
Regardless of Arsenal's growing prowess, Ba claims that Mourinho was ready and willing to sell him to the Gunners this summer despite the ongoing rivalry between Stamford Bridge and the Emirates.
"Yes, [he would have let me join Arsenal], because this time Jose told me," he explained. "Last summer he wanted to keep me, but he said this time, if I had any opportunity, he would let me go."
Wenger decided not to go back in for Ba this summer after agreeing a deal to sign Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona. Wenger admitted he sees the Chilean winger is seen as a central striker for the Gunners.
However, having lost Olivier Giroud to a broken leg, the Frenchman may be ruing his decision not to sign Ba. The 29-year-old has proven Premier League experience and could have stopped claims that Arsenal are heading for a crisis with Giroud.