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Arsenal and the Midfield Talent That Slipped Away to Madrid

Arsenal’s Missed Opportunity: The Valverde Saga

The Path Not Taken
There was once a timeline, albeit briefly entertained, where the Emirates Stadium could have echoed with the chants of Federico Valverde’s name. The Uruguayan midfielder, who now sits firmly amongst Europe’s elite with Real Madrid, once knocked on Arsenal’s door. In an alternative footballing universe, Valverde’s boots might have graced the English Premier League under the watchful gaze of then-manager, Arsene Wenger reveal The Mirror.

The Uruguayan talent trialled with the Gunners in 2016 after departing Penarol. However, in a twist that Arsenal fans may now lament, Wenger opted against signing the budding star. Enter Real Madrid, who wasted no time in scooping up the young prodigy.

From Humble Beginnings
Valverde wasn’t immediately thrust into the limelight at the Bernabeu. His initial years saw him being part of Madrid’s reserve ranks, with a subsequent loan to Deportivo La Coruna. But as they say, class is permanent. Federico’s ascent in the Madrid set-up was imminent.

In an emotional reflection on his brief Arsenal days, Valverde shared a heartfelt sentiment about a fellow South American, Alexis Sanchez: “When I went to train at Arsenal, Alexis was there and he was one of the few who came up to help me. I will always be grateful to him… As a footballer, he is an incredible player.”

A Star Ascends
By the 2018/19 season, Valverde’s talent couldn’t be ignored. Julen Lopetegui handed him a first-team role, a season which saw Federico make 25 appearances and lift the FIFA Club World Cup. His journey was only beginning. The succeeding years saw Valverde claim a La Liga title, solidify his position in the Uruguayan national team, and play a pivotal role in Real’s Champions League success against Liverpool.

While recent speculations have linked him with Liverpool and Chelsea, Valverde has eyes only for Madrid. He candidly shared with ESPN Argentina, “I’m at Madrid and I’m trying to enjoy every moment… I want to keep winning titles for the Real Madrid fans.”

In The Here and Now
Worth a staggering £100million today, Valverde’s prowess was on full display during Uruguay’s recent 3-1 victory against Chile. The match marked a winning start for coach Marcelo Bielsa, and Valverde’s brilliance only reaffirms Arsenal’s missed chance.

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