Here’s one more player to add to the list of stars Arsene Wenger could have signed in the past, but chose not to.
As reported by ESPN Brasil today, Chelsea midfielder Willian had been suggested to the Gunners at the age of 17, but the club chose to focus on other targets instead.
The story was told by Daniel Musatti. The Brazilian had been a Corinthians coach for years, and followed all of Willian’s development from the academy to the first team. Then in 2006, he did a job for Arsenal as a club scout, and thought Arsene Wenger would like the quick winger.
“By the way, I did the report of Denilson of São Paulo that year, and shortly after he was sold to England,” Musatti told ESPN Brasil. “The athletes were recommended by Wenger’s chief scout to the scouts of Brazil, they were all pre-determined.
“I made the suggestion that we watched Willian and make a full report of him for the analysis of Arsenal’s chief scout, but at the time I was told that there was no interest because they were looking at another player.”
“They asked me to do a complete scout of Neto Baiano, who was at Paulista de Jundiaí.”
“A year after I suggested Willian to Arsenal, he was sold for a lot of money to Ukraine and developed there, turning into that great player we all see today. He could have gone to Arsenal but they preferred to watch Neto Baiano…”
Willian was sold from Corinthians to Shakhtar Donetsk on a €14m deal in 2007. He moved to Anzhi for €35m in January 2013, but only spent six months in Russia, as Chelsea signed him in the next summer, having paid €35.5m.
Neto Baiano could never have a really successful career in Brazil, and currently plays for second division side CRB.