Ahead of Arsenal’s Premier League clash with Manchester United, Arsene Wenger suggested that he showed an interest in signing Anthony Martial, but he was told on two occasions that the forward was not for sale.
In fact, Monaco told Arsenal to forget about signing Martial just weeks before he moved to Manchester United.
When asked Wenger to comment on Martial, his first reaction was:
“I was surprised they sold him.”
Wenger first spotted his talent when Martial was at Lyons, but he didn’t make any concrete effort after being told the club was not considering any offers.
Later, he joined Monaco for £3m. And two years later, he was again told the player “was not sellable” only for United to sign him for £36m, a fee that can rise to £56m.
Wenger said as quoted by The Times:
“The amount of money was massive. I believe that you could think that, if you are Monaco, you could have sold him as well next season. So I thought they would not sell him this year because they sold many other players.
“I thought they would maintain their word. He was not sellable. He was not on the list. He was one of the players Monaco did not want to sell, so we never made an approach for him.
“Only an acceptable amount of money after could do it. We always liked him, even when he was in Lyons. That was a surprise too, that Lyons sold him on the last day of the transfer market for €5 million [£3 million].”
Martial has taken the Premier League by storm, scoring four goals already for his new club, including a sensational goal on his debut against Liverpool.
More than just goals, it is his boisterous energy and courageous approach that has galvanised the entire squad.
However, Wenger is not absolutely convinced with the amount of money United have paid for him, but says United are entitled to do so.
According to Monaco, United were not the only club who were willing to dish out high transfer fee for the 19-year-old French striker.
In fact, United’s offer was not the highest they received when they decided to sell Martial.
Vadim Vasilyev, the French club’s vice-president has told Marca that another suitor had offer them more but the player only wanted to join United.
“There was another club that offered even more than United,” Vasilyev said. “I will not say how much, but the fixed price, without variables, was even better, and they also offered us [the chance] to have him for a further year in Monaco. But the boy wanted to go to Manchester.
“It was his dream and we let him go with the bonus of [£36 million]. Had it not been for so much money, he would have stayed.”