By Matt Farr
Arsenal failed in their attempts to land midfield chief Wilfred Ndidi prior to his move to Leicester, according to a report.
The Telegraph claim that Arsenal had been looking to sign the defensive midfielder from Genk this summer, only for Leicester to jump the queue and bring him to the King Power Stadium in January.
Ndidi, 20, was snapped up by the defending Premier League champions in a £15million deal, and is already showing promising signs of filling the void vacated by N’Golo Kante last summer.
He has played a starring role in recent weeks during Craig Shakespeare’s timely revival, scoring a goal as Leicester eased past Stoke on Saturday.
The Nigeria international has contributed two goals and an assist from his 13 appearances for his new employers, and has helped them reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
However, amid Arsenal’s reported interest, he could have had a defining impact at the Emirates with the north London club seeking midfield reinforcements at the earliest opportunity.
Arsenal splashed the cash on German Bundesliga ace Granit Xhaka last summer, but the 24-year-old has performed well below expectation, and far below his £30million price-tag.
But it is also understood that Leicester are worried that they could struggle to retain Ndidi’s services beyond the current season, which could see Arsenal resume their interest.
Manchester United, Southampton and Hamburg were also believed to be keen on a summer move.
Football Insider verdict
Since N’Golo Kante’s move from Leicester to Chelsea, the results have been abundantly clear. He was the standout performer in Leicester’s title victory last term, and he is on course to achieve the same with Chelsea. But Arsenal could, and should have signed him last summer, and their inability to win that race has cost them. Yet despite Xhaka’s arrival, they are still looking for midfield reinforcements, and Ndidi could be a wise choice. A hard-worker, he is very similar to Kante, and could be the answer for Arsenal in the defensive-midfielder region. They cannot afford Ndidi to be the next rising midfield star to slip through their fingers.
In other Arsenal transfer news, the Gunners are preparing for a mass exodus as nine senior players face the axe this summer.