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Arsenal Legend Martin Keown Rues Club’s Failure To Sign Yaya Toure

Arsenal legend-turned-pundit Martin Keown believes the Gunners probably missed the chance of signing Yaya Toure in 2002 despite the midfielder failing with an initial work permit application. The Ivorian had a trial alongside his elder brother Kolo at the north London club, and the latter ending up signing a long-term contract after the Gunners paid a £150,000 fee to ASEC Mimosas.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, Keown still regrets that Yaya went out of the Gunners’ grasp with Arsene Wenger deciding against making an offer for the midfielder, he said: “I wonder if Yaya Toure is the player who got away for Arsenal. Arsene Wenger could have brought him to the club years ago.”

Wenger had the option of loaning out the midfielder to a foreign club until he was issued a working visa, but the Frenchman did not see the qualities required in the Ivorian. Yaya continued to move to Ukraine with Metalruh Donetsk before joining Olympiacos in 2005. He therein spent time with AS Monaco and Barcelona before ending up with Manchester City in the summer of 2010.
Yaya has since gone onto win two Premier League titles, two League Cups and one FA Cup with the Citizens, and he is potentially approaching the twilight of his career under Pep Guardiola. Now 34, the midfielder has assumed the role of a squad player under the Catalan tactician, and there are suggestions that he could leave the club on a free transfer during the summer, though he may not attract any big-club interest at his age.
Arsenal have lost on several players over the years through their lack of judgement over the potential, but they have also seen plenty of positive signings over the years with the likes of Toure, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira leaving a lasting influence under Arsene Wenger during the early 2000s where they were capable of competing for the Premier League crown.