Arsene Wenger says Arsenal were priced out of a move for Kylian Mbappe during the summer transfer window. The France international moved to Paris Saint-Germain on deadline day, initially on a season-long loan, ahead of a permanent switch away from Monaco.
Goal.com understands PSG are obligated to pay €180m (£165m) next summer to bring Mbappe to the Parc des Princes. The agreement is being investigated by Fifa after a summer which has already seen Neymar move to the French capital for a world-record €200m.
Arsenal were linked with a move for Mbappe for much of the window but those ties faded after they concluded a deal to sign Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon. Wenger even held talks with Mbappe, who was also linked with Real Madrid.
But despite holding a long-term interest in the 18-year-old, Wenger admits Arsenal simply did not have the finances to sign the youngster, who scored 26 goals in all competitions last term for Ligue 1 champions Monaco.
"I wanted him too," Wenger told Telefoot, according to Goal.com, when asked about Mbappe. "But €180m is too much for us. He could become the next Pele. He has no limits. He's only 18 and is going to be stronger. He has a balanced game for a striker, he scores and gives the chance to score to his team-mates. It's the quality of great players."
The tale reflects what was a disastrous summer transfer window for Arsenal, who failed to land a series of targets and lost Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to top-four rivals Liverpool on deadline day. The Gunners did retain Alexis Sanchez, but it remains to be seen whether last season's top scorer will return to his best after coming close to joining Manchester City. The Chile international can now leave the Emirates Stadium for nothing next summer.
Sanchez's exit in the closing hours of the window was blocked after a move for Thomas Lemar fell through. The Monaco winger turned down a move to north London after a bid of £92m was accepted for his services.
Meanwhile, Mbappe has spoken out for the first time regarding his decision to spurn interest from Real and stay in France with PSG, insisting the chance to succeed in the country of his birth was too good an opportunity to turn down.
"Great players make history in their own country," he told Telefoot, according to Goal.com. "If I had left France after six months I would have left as an eternal hope. When you come to Paris you are at a club that has the ambition to be the best in the world, you have come to a club that wants to play in all the competitions. I'm going to give everything I have got to make history with PSG. Playing with Neymar is something extraordinary. PSG already interested me, but having Neymar is an additional boost."