Arsene Wenger says not signing Yaya Toure as a youngster is up there with the biggest regrets of his career.
Toure has been one of the standout performers in the Premier League this season and is set to line up against the Gunners at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
But if things had gone Wenger's way, it is entirely possible that the Ivorian international would be putting on a red and white shirt rather than a sky blue one when the two teams take to the pitch.
Arsenal invited Toure, the brother of then-Gunners star Kolo, to their London Colney training ground in 2003, playing a friendly for the club against Barnet in July 2003.
Having developed into one of the finest midfielders in the world, Wenger admits not signing him is a massive regret, but insists the circumstances that saw Toure move elsewhere lied out of Arsenal's control.
“It would be up at the top [of my list of regrets],” he told reporters ahead of the Manchester City game. “But let's not forget that Yaya Toure had an agreement with us - and it's not because we did not want to sign him that he went to Ukraine.
“We needed to wait for his passport in Belgium. We have made mistakes but he is not a mistake, it's just the fact that he preferred to go to Metalurh Donetsk. He could go there without any passport.”
Toure has scored 21 goals in 42 appearances for the Citizens this season with a number of those goals proving vital to their title challenge. Not only has Toure proved exceptional at free-kick, but has also caught a flavour for the spectacular long-distance efforts all fans love to see.
However, despite Toure's threat from distance, Wenger insists that he is just one of a number of players his Arsenal team will have to lock down if they are to win tomorrow.
“You cannot deal with everybody individually because all the players are good,” he said. “I believe it's down to our collective defending - the quality of our collective defending that will make the difference.”
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