Nahuel Molina is currently starring for Argentina at the World Cup in Qatar – but the Atletico Madrid could have ended up lining up for Arsenal this season.
The 23-year-old right-back was snapped up by Diego Simeone’s side after a two-year spell at Italian outfit Udinese.
An attacking full-back, Molina netted seven goals in his final season in Italy’s top division, and immediately became first choice in his position at Atletico.
On the international stage, Molina started Argentina’s disappointing 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia in their opening group game of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
After dropping to the bench for the following win against Mexico, the 23-year-old has returned to Lionel Scaloni’s side for the last three games – including tonight’s clash against Netherlands.
And it is in the most recent game that Molina has showcased his attacking qualities. He charged forward during an attacking move, before receiving Lionel Messi’s exquisite through ball and poking the ball beyond Andres Noppert to make the score 1-0, with the game ending 2-2 after normal time.
It is his first goal for his country at senior level – and a timely one at that.
But he could have been one of the Arsenal contingent in Qatar had things gone differently.
Arsenal almost signed Nahuel Molina
In May, reports from Spain claimed that Arsenal had made an ‘important bid’ for Molina’s services.
Marca stated that the Gunners and Juventus had interest in the right-back, who can also play further forward. However, Atletico made the player a ‘priority’.
This report was backed up by Calciomercato in Italy, who said that the Gunners were keen on a swap deal involving Pablo Mari, who was then on loan at Udinese.
But that deal did not materialise, and Molina went on to join Atletico in July.
Speaking after the move was completed, Molina said: “I’m very happy to take this next step in my career. It’s a dream.
“It will be a pleasure to learn from Simeone and his staff.”
For the Gunners, Ben White has started every Premier League game this term at right-back as Arteta’s side top the table, whilst Takehiro Tomiyasu is now fully fit following an early-season injury.