Arsenal failed in an attempt to sign Kylian Mbappe in 2013, a former member of the club’s scouting team has revealed.
Gilles Grimandi is best known for a five-year stint as an Arsenal player between 1997 and 2002, where he was part of an Arsenal side that won two Premier League titles under the guidance of Arsene Wenger.
But Grimandi also worked for the Gunners as a French-based scout between 2006 and 2019, before a short stint as technical director at OGC Nice.
His role was to look out for up-and-coming talent in his homeland and pass on the information to Arsenal’s hierarchy to decide whether or not to make a move.
Speaking about his experiences, Grimandi has revealed in an interview The Sun that the task of signing high-calibre youngsters became increasingly difficult as Arsenal’s level of performance began to drop, and noted that Mbappe was one prime example of a player who got away.
“The job of scouting is about finding but also missing players. For me, it is Kylian Mbappe. We just could not convince him,” Grimandi said.
“He was out of contract in June 2013 and we met him in February. If we could have convinced him to join, he would have changed the club but he then decided on Monaco.
“Arsenal were not always playing their best so it was quite complicated. At first, it was easy, as soon as we talked to a player he wanted to sign it.
“However, if you are not getting results it is difficult to bring top players to help the team. That’s why it is important to stay at the top for as long as possible. It is so much easier.”
Mbappe’s career exploded after he broke into Monaco’s first team at just 16 years and 347 days old – breaking Thierry Henry’s 21-year record as the club’s youngest-ever player.
He quickly ascended to the top of the game after winning Ligue 1 in 2017, joining PSG in August of that year in a deal worth as much as €180m, the second most expensive transfer of all time.