Real Madrid star Federico Valverde has revealed that he could have ended up at Arsenal as ‘hands were shook’ over a move to The Emirates several years ago.
The Uruguay international has become an important player for the reigning LaLiga title holders and Champions League winners, firstly under Zinedine Zidane and more latterly Carlo Ancelotti.
Indeed, Valverde has scored 10 times in 157 games for the club in all competitions. However, things could have worked out very differently for the midfielder.
A report from AS states the 24-year-old had ‘reached a verbal agreement’ with Arsenal when he was still at former club Penarol.
Valverde had been scouted by Arsene Wenger’s right-hand man for more than two decades at the club, Francis Cagigao.
Cagigao watched the young midfielder play several times and had convinced the player, his family and his agent Gerardo Rabajda that a move to north London was the right choice.
The player and his advisor actually spent six days in London in December 2014. They stayed at Sopwell House Hotel near Arsenal’s training centre during that time.
Valverde actually trained with the club’s U23s at first but also mixed in with the first team.
The report, as translated by Sport Witness, adds that Arsenal were convinced a deal would be done. Indeed, they sent chief negotiator, Richard Law, to Montevideo to finalise the signing with Penarol and Rabajda.
Despite a ‘verbal agreement’ being in place a decision was made to wait until the end of the South American Under 17 Championship taking place in Paraguay.
However, that changed everything as Valverde excelled in that tournament. He scored seven goals and finished as the second top scorer overall.
Real Madrid make their move for Valverde
That led to him catching the eye of the likes of Real Madrid. And the Spanish giants did not hesitate to try and strike a deal.
The Gunners then demanded that Valverde honour their agreement, which included buying the player for £2.6million.
And while the player’s family were ready to go ahead, Penarol’s head was turned by Real’s interest.
The bidding process then saw Real offer £4.5m which was agreed by general manager Jose Angel Sanchez.
By June of 2016, Valverde had moved to Madrid to join the Castilla side. And it’s fair to say, he’s not looked back since.
Table-topping Arsenal are back in action on October 1 when they host Tottenham in the north London derby.
Victory over their neighbours will see them move four points clear at the top against their third-placed rivals.
However, Mikel Arteta has a major injury concern going in to the game after Thomas Partey suffered a knock on international duty.
The Ghana star pulled up in the warm-up for the friendly with Brazil in France. And while there was no information given on the nature of the problem, there are fears Partey could be sidelined against Spurs.