By Avenell Dave
Seven years ago, I had the privilege of following Arsenal on their pre-season tour of Austria.
As any of you who have been on the tour will testify, it's about as informal a pre-season as you're ever likely to see, with hardly a brow sweaty or a leg stretched.
There were a couple of unrecognisable faces on that tour.
One was a slight, timid-looking defender who made mistake after mistake and clearly didn't have a future at Arsenal.
The other was a tall, rangy attacking midfielder who looked a bit like Kanu, who rarely lost the ball and looked like a potentially quality addition to the squad.
With David Seaman gone, that team looked like it needed some work if it was to compete for the top trophies again, I thought.
Shows how much I knew.
Arsene Wenger announced on the Friday after a routine win that Jens Lehmann would be signing and the beginning of the Invincibles was born.
The timid defender, Gael Clichy, has become our first choice left back and is now second choice for France - a shrewd bit of business for Wenger after Clichy's club Cannes was relegated.
The Kanu clone was Yaya Toure, brother of Kolo, who for work permit or performance reasons was not signed.
We will never really know why Wenger decided not to sign Yaya - but given the age of some of the players and his previous willingness to sign youngsters and loan them out, I suspect that it was down to his assessment of the player, something he would never publicly come out and say.
Since then, Yaya has played in Belgium, Greece and now at Barca, where he helped them win a load of trophies, as something of a water carrier in a team of showboaters.
Is he a £20m player? I don't think so, but he's probably the closest thing to Patrick Vieira currently playing at his peak.
He's tall, rangy, can tackle and pass the ball and likes to defend and attack in equal measure.
Without wanting to make this too much of a history lesson, let me take you back a few years to when a young Monaco winger joined Juventus.
Wenger made it clear that if Theirry Henry struggled in Italy, he would be happy to bring his old protege to Arsenal, and so it proved, just as he had done with Vieira after a torrid time in Milan.
Henry's status was somewhat tainted by his struggles in Italy (as was the case for Vieira) and Wenger got himself a world class bargain.
Initially because of the link with his brother and now simply because of the Cesc transfer rumours, Yaya is being touted again as a target for Arsenal.
His agent seems to change his story about once a week but I would be shocked if this one ever happens.
Wenger has admitted that the purse strings are a bit looser now that much of the club's capital debt has been paid off, but would he really want to pay top dollar for someone he could twice have signed for next to nothing?
Anyone who has followed Arsenal knows that's just not Wenger's way.
If the Cesc sale was to go through this summer, a large cash sum and a younger player who hasn't yet made the grade (the Russian centre back comes to mind) is a far more likely scenario.
There are onlly so many players you can field in one game and while Yoann Gourcuff has been mentioned as a Cesc replacement, and one I would welcome, Wenger could have ahd him from Milan two years ago for £4m.
How will Le Boss feel about paying the £20m+ release fee for another he could have signed for much less?
It's just not Wenger's way.