Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted that he regrets missing out on the chance to sign Didier Drogba nearly 15 years ago, if only to prevent persistent pain caused by the Ivory Coast superstar during his first spell at Chelsea.
Drogba has been a constant menace for Arsenal over the last decade, making mincemeat of Gunners defences throughout eight fantastic seasons at Stamford Bridge.
The likes of Philippe Senderos and Johan Djourou probably still shudder at the mere mention of Drogba's name, a prospect which could rear its ugly head again for Arsenal now that the 36-year-old is enjoying a second spell in West London.
Opportunity missed to say the least
Wenger has revealed he knew about the forward's talent when he emerged as a prospect in the lower of reaches of French football, but did nothing about it.
In a question and answer session with Huawei the Gunners boss shared: “I would have loved to have managed Didier Drogba for two reasons.
“I missed him when he played in France at Le Mans – not even in the top league. I knew he was good player there and I missed him.
“And secondly because he hurt us so much in big games that all this pain would not have happened.”
Why didn't Wenger make a move?
For a manager who prides himself on unearthing gems and with a proven track record of doing so, particularly in France, Wenger definitely got this one wrong.
Drogba quickly moved from Le Mens to Guingamp and then onto Marseille, where the powerful predator really started to find his groove.
With that the chance to sign one of Europe's best young strikers at anything less than premium was gone and Chelsea took full advantage of Wenger's mistake, paying £24m for a player who wasted little time in repaying that outlay.
157 goals followed but a Champions League winning penalty aside Drogba will perhaps be best remembered for the relish he took in scoring against Arsenal time again, with 15 goals in as many games against the Gunners.
Among those brilliant memories for Blues fans is a pair of goals in the 2007 League Cup final, a performance which set the tone for a glut of painful experiences for Wenger.
Arsenal face Chelsea at the Bridge on October 5th, you can bet that Drogba will be desperate to continue his record as the Premier League's ultimate bogey man that day, even more so following Wenger's comments that show a blunder that Arsenal have paid for time and time again.
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