£18m Leicester signing explains why he rejected Arsenal

Joe Williams

Belgium midfielder Dennis Praet has revealed how he rejected an opportunity to join Arsenal earlier in his career.

Praet signed a five-year contract at the King Power stadium on transfer deadline day and has teamed up with compatriot Youri Tielemans in midfield after arriving for a fee of £18million.

And the player has already made four appearances for his new employers, with the former Sampdoria man seeing action in the Premier League and Carabao Cup.

But it turns out the 25-year-old, a target for Unai Emery at Arsenal this summer, could have signed for the Gunners a decade earlier with the player a long-standing target for the north London outfit.

However, the player ended up signing for Anderlecht before moving to Serie A with Sampdoria.

Explaining his thinking, Praet said: “I had three or four really good options.

“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.”

Explaining his summer move to the King Power Stadium, the player admitted he feared the deal would not get over the line in time.

“It was a really close call because it was deadline day.

“I arrived at the training ground but there were some small issues with the contract and I think it was only one hour before the deadline that everything was figured out, so I signed just in time.

“But I arrived here with the thought that if I sign, I could go back to get my stuff I needed.

“But the gaffer really wanted me to stay for the first game, against Chelsea.

“I had no boots, so I did two training sessions and the first game with somebody else’s. I don’t even know whose they were.”