Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says the club failed to acquire Eden Hazard prior to his move to Chelsea because they did not bid enough. Hazard moved to Stamford Bridge from Lille in 2012 for a reported £32m ($49.9m), according to BBC Sport, and Wenger has confirmed he was trying to sign the Belgium international at the same time.
That move came at the end of a period where Arsenal were frugal in the transfer market, offloading big-name players and signing cut-price replacements in order to offset the substantial investment made on the The Emirates Stadium.
As Chelsea won the Premier League title and the League Cup last term, Hazard scooped a deluge of individual prizes, including the PFA players' player of the pear, Football Writers' player of the pear and Premier League player of the year.
These exploits have seen Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho dub the winger better than Fifa Ballon d'Or holder Cristiano Ronaldo.
But Wenger, whose side will come face-to-face with Hazard in the Community Shield on 2 August, says the consistency of Cristiano Ronaldo and his Argentine nemesis Lionel Messi make them a class apart from the Chelsea star.
"He can decide the games and you put the top players in this kind of calibre when they can decide the games with something special," he told a press conference to preview the Community Shield.
"Hazard is in this category, now to reach the other two or three that are dominating world football at the moment I think it demands consistency which he is still to do. It is all about opinions. You have to compare the numbers. I must say players like Messi and Ronaldo still score 50 goals and that is exceptional."
Asked about that aborted attempt to lure Hazard to Arsenal, Wenger responded: "Yes. We were a few million away!"