Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Jamie Vardy... 12 transfers Arsenal have failed to complete

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi (L) smiles beside forward Luis Suarez (R)

Jamie Vardy has become the latest star Arsenal have missed out on signing and in doing so he has joined an illustrious list of players.

Arsene Wenger's attempts to bring Vardy to the Emirates this summer have not been a secret, but the striker this week opted to turn down the Gunners in favour of a new Leicester City contract.

The news came as a blow to Wenger and the club's fans, but Vardy is certainly not the first player to have failed to complete a move to north London after interest from Arsenal.

Didier Drogba

BOLTON, UNITED KINGDOM:  Chelsea's Ivorian striker Didier Drogba (R) salutes the fans after Chelsea's 2-0 victory against Bolton, giving them the Premiersh
Image: Arsene Wenger knew about Didier Drogba but opted against signing him

Wenger was interested in signing a young Drogba when he was still an unknown at Le Mans, but the Ivory Coast striker wasn't picked up by the Gunners. He went on to play for Guingamp and Marseille before joining London rivals Chelsea.

"I missed him when he played at Le Mans in France, not even in the top league," Wenger admitted in 2014. "I knew there was a good player and I missed him."


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Juanfran of Atletico de Madrid reacts during La Liga match between Levante UD and Atletico de Madrid at Ciutat de Valencia on Ma
Image: Juanfran was approached by Arsenal after they sold Bacary Sagna

Hector Bellerin may be emerging as a talent at right-back, but Arsenal were rebuffed in their attempts to sign an established world-class player in that position two years ago.

"I rejected two offers from Arsenal - It's what I feel." Atletico Madrid's Juanfran told Radio Marca in 2015. "I know where I am. Atletico have pushed for me to stay."

N'Golo Kante

N'Golo Kante was called up to the France squad for the first time this month
Image: Arsenal knew about N'Golo Kante but didn't think he was ready

Leicester City's midfield dynamo has everything that Arsenal need and is everything that Wenger likes. He's energetic, he can defend, he's French and he was cheap.

But Wenger recently revealed he opted against signing Kante, despite the fact that he "saw he had quality" after one of Wenger's friends had kept the Arsenal manager updated on the midfielder's career as it developed.

Gonzalo Higuain

Il Napoli chiude il campionato al secondo posto. Higuain "signore del gol" in A con 36 reti: superato Nordahl (Foto Getty)
Image: Gonzalo Higuain opted to sign for Napoli over Arsenal

Wenger's pursuit of the Argentina international was widely reported, but Higuain opted against a move to Arsenal in favour of Napoli.

"I was honoured by Arsenal's interest; I have great respect for Wenger and the idea to be in his plans filled me with pride," Higuain said after moving to the Serie A from Real Madrid in 2013.

"But I think my decision to come to Napoli was the best, I'm really happy with this choice."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice in his last appearance at the Parc des Princes for PSG in a 4-0 rout of Nantes on Saturday
Image: Zlatan Ibrahimovic's aversion to trials proved a stumbling block

The list of forwards that Arsenal have missed out on is astonishing, but few are more remarkable than Wenger's decision to turn down Ibrahimovic.

The Swede came to Arsenal as a 16-year-old, but Wenger asked him to do some training as a test before agreeing to sign him, to which the striker said he responded: "I don't do trials."

Zlatan went to Ajax instead.

Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez of Barcelona celebrates scoring his team's second goal
Image: Luis Suarez heeded the advice of his captain to reject an Arsenal move

Arsenal's bid of one pound over Suarez's £40million release clause is one of the biggest mistakes in the club's recent transfer history.

The offer was taken as an insult by Liverpool, creating an air of doubt around the move and creating enough of a delay that the Uruguay international had time to hear some pertinent advice from his club captain.

"Arsenal's interest in me was very public," Suarez said. "I don't think that is any secret. I had a private conversation with Stevie (Gerrard) after training, and he told me to give Liverpool another season, and wait for Barcelona."

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi of Barcelona celebrates scoring the opening goal
Image: A 15-year-old Lionel Messi turned down a bid from Arsenal

Sky Sports pundit Guillem Balague revealed an astonishing piece of information in his recent book, Messi: that Arsenal tried to sign Lionel Messi at the same time as they acquired a young Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona.

The Gunners were the first European club to bid for 15-year-old Messi at Barca, only for the future World Player of the Year to reject a move.

Gerard Pique

Gerard Pique says Atletico Madrid are a bigger threat than Real Madrid
Image: Gerard Pique travelled to Arsenal as a youngster but turned them down

Messi wasn't the only Barcelona youngster that Arsenal tried to lure from La Masia, according to Sky Sports' Balague.

Wenger approached a young Pique over a move, with the defender even travelling to London to agree a deal. But the centre-back opted to reject Arsenal's offer of an initial verbal contract followed by a permanent deal.

Angel di Maria

Argentina's Angel Di Maria celebrates after scoring
Image: Angel di Maria could have been signed by Arsenal for free

Manchester United broke the British transfer record when they signed the Argentina international from Real Madrid for £59.7 million in 2014. But Arsenal could have signed a young Di Maria for nothing if they'd sorted out the deal more quickly.

Wenger has revealed that a 17-year-old Di Maria was signed from under the club's noses while they were trying to force through a work permit - a situation that continues to infuriate the Arsenal boss.

"We had identified Di Maria when he was 17," Wenger said. "We wanted him to come here. So he goes to Portugal (with Benfica) and from Portugal he goes to Spain. Why? Because he could not get a work permit."

Yaya Toure

Yaya Toure of Manchester City celebrates scoring his team's first goal
Image: Yaya Toure was watched by Arsenal but didn't have a passport

Arsenal had Yaya Toure on trial in 2003, but were unable to beat Metalurh Donetsk to the player's signature because he did not have a passport.

It was another logistical error that denied the Gunners what could have been one of their greatest-ever signings, but Wenger told the official Arsenal website that the situation was out of his hands.

"Let's not forget that Toure had an agreement with us - and it's not because we did not want to sign him that he went to Ukraine," Wenger said. "We have made mistakes, but he is not a mistake."

Cristiano Ronaldo

MILAN, ITALY - MAY 27:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid gives the thumbs up during a Real Madrid training session on the eve of the UEFA Champions League
Image: Cristiano Ronaldo was interested in a move to Arsenal in 2003

Ronaldo had a tour of Arsenal's training ground in 2003, where he was impressed by Wenger's approach and what the club could offer him. But Arsenal were unable to agree a fee with Sporting Lisbon and Ronaldo went to Manchester United instead.

"In the end it was a question of the amount of transfer fee between the two clubs," Wenger explained. "Of course he has proved to be a bargain (£12.25m). But the price that we discussed was in fact much lower. It was divided by three." 

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