Arsene Wenger’s faith in Francis Coquelin was misplaced and the failure to sign N’Golo Kante was a “mistake”, according to Alan Smith.
Wenger reportedly turned down the chance to sign N’Golo Kante from Caen in 2015.
The Gunners chief was offered Kante and Thomas Lemar for a combined fee of £12.6m, but neither deal happened, while Wenger is also believed to have failed in a bid to land Chelsea man Kante a second time last summer.
Asked why it didn’t it happen, Wenger said in February: “I cannot explain everything but it is obvious when you look at where he has gone. Transfers is transfers and you cannot explain absolutely everything.”
Kante, who was named the PFA Player of the Year on Sunday, joined Leicester City from Caen in 2015 for a fee believed to be £7.65million and helped the Foxes claim the Premier League title.
Kante then moved to London rivals Chelsea in a £32million move and he looks set to be crowned a Premier League champion again.
Asked whether Wenger should have signed Kante, Arsenal old boy Smith told Sky Sports: “Of course they should have.
“He’s something that they haven’t got. I think Arsene Wenger thought at the time that Coquelin would be able to do that job.
“But Coquelin has stood still and hasn’t become the player we thought he would when he first broke into the Arsenal team.
“It’s reflected in the fact he’s not getting in the team. He didn’t get in the semi-final team at the weekend.
“I think it was a mistake. If he could have got him, he should have got him.”