Leicester City midfielder Dennis Praet has revealed he turned down the opportunity to join Arsenal as a youngster.
The 25-year-old Belgium international joined the Foxes from Sampdoria this summer for a reported £18m.
Praet’s decision: Five key things to know…
- Praet started at Belgian outfit Genk but never played for their senior team.
- He joined Anderlecht aged 16, registering 27 goals across 182 first-team appearances.
- Before relocating to Brussels, a host of clubs were after his signature, including Arsenal.
- Praet, who saw the Gunners as a “nice step”, opted to remain in Belgium.
- He’s since found his way to the Premier League, signing for Leicester City this summer.
He’s since gone on to make two Premier League appearances, totalling 82 minutes, under Brendan Rodgers with just one of those coming from the start.
However, things could have been different for the Leuven-born footballer, who was coveted by a host of top European clubs during his youth playing days.
A graduate of KRC Genk, where the likes of Yannick Carrasco and Kevin De Bruyne started their footballing journey, Praet saw the likes of Arsenal and Ajax battle for his signature but he politely turned them down.
A big reason was his education, as well as the fact he didn’t feel comfortable leaving Belgium as a teenager.
Subscribe to Squawka’s Youtube channel here.
“I had three or four really good options,” he told The Guardian.
“We went to visit Arsenal, Lille, Ajax and Anderlecht. Arsenal would have been a really nice step and I could earn a lot more money there than in Anderlecht, but at that moment my education was not finished and that was really important for me – there was no insurance that I would become a good football player.”
Praet ultimately joined Belgian powerhouse Anderlecht aged 16 and would go on to make 182 appearances for Les Mauves et Blancs, registering 27 goals and creating a further 39 for his teammates.
His revelation comes just days after Cristiano Ronaldo revealed Arsene Wenger made an attempt to sign him just before his move to Manchester United, while Wenger himself admitted he tried to lure Jadon Sancho to the Emirates while he was still a Man City player.