Premier League leaders Arsenal have now failed twice to land Suoer Eagles winger Samuel Chukwueze after Mikel Arteta made the club’s interest known in the Villarreal attacker in the January transfer window.
The Nigeria star has since spoken out on how close he came to joining the Gunners earlier in his career before watching the deal collapse, although he has refused to rule out a future move to England.
Chukwueze has attracted admirers from all over Europe since bursting onto the scene with Villarreal in 2018 as a teenager, and with nearly 200 appearances to his name, he has scored 31 goals and laid on 36 assists for his team-mates.
The 23-year-old’s impressive return of 11 goals this season has raised the prospect of a move to a bigger club after Arsenal lined up a January move for the winger. However, their attempts to lure him to London ended in failure, just as it did when they first tried to lure Chukwueze to north London when he was just 15 after he shone at the Under-17 World Cup.
“From the  World Cup I went to Arsenal to sign a contract, but it got complicated because they didn’t reach an agreement with my academy,” he told El Peridoico Mediterraneo. “I went through Salzburg and Porto before being lucky enough to come to Villarreal. And I signed a pre-contract at the age of 17.
“They told me that I had to return at the age of 18 before signing the final contract as a professional. I said, ‘Okay, no problem.’ I returned to Nigeria and started training with my academy again.”
He started out with the Diamond Academy in Nigeria before joining Villarreal’s Under-19 side in 2017. It wasn’t long after that he made his Villarreal debut and it later proved that Arsenal had missed out securing another gem, with Chukwueze now valued at an estimated £50million.
Eight years after their first attempt ended in failure, Arteta renewed the club’s interest in bringing Chukwueze to the Emirates in January as he searched for a winger to add to his squad, as reported by The Sun.
But with Aston Villa also interested, the youngster hasn’t ruled out a summer move to the Premier League in the summer and he could reunite with ex-Arsenal boss Emery at Villa Park.
“I’m a Villarreal player and my focus this season is to do well and put them in a good position for Champions League and Europa League spots, for me to have a good name before I leave the club,” he told Elegbete TV Sport in March.
“For now, I’m just focused on Villarreal. Any rumour that you are listening to now, maybe in the future it will happen, but for now, I am a Villarreal player.“