Arsenal turned down the chance to sign Dries Mertens this month, citing his age as the main factor for rejecting the player.
The 32-year-old continues to be linked with a Napoli exit this month as Chelsea eye a last-minute switch.
But Arsenal could have pipped their London rivals to Mertens’ signature earlier this month.
The Times report the Gunners were given the opportunity to sign the Belgian at the start of the window only to reject the offer due to his age.
Mikel Arteta and the Arsenal board want to focus on younger players as they seek to revitalise the club.
The Spaniard hasn’t strengthened his attacking line so far this month.
But Frank Lampard’s men are in desperate need of another attacking option before the January window closes.
Mertens has been the striker Chelsea had been pushing hardest for but with the Euros looming it was always going to be a hard sell.
He is guaranteed playing time at Napoli when he returns from injury and has his sights set on becoming the club’s all-time leading scorer, needing four more goals to do so.
Chelsea have also been linked with Edinson Cavani in recent weeks and may still launch a bid for him after his Atletico Madrid move fell through.
Dries Mertens wants to see out his contract at Napoli
Olivier Giroud could be set to leave on Friday after agreeing a move to Lazio.
Chelsea are still waiting to sign a replacement, however.
“We got a punishment in the summer and it is meant to hurt you,” Lampard said earlier this month.
“We lost one of the biggest players in our history in Eden Hazard. That is the situation.
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“My job is to work every day on the training ground to make the players better. The other part is looking at how we can move forward by bringing in players.
“We lost ground last summer and we need to make moves now to take us forward. I have a…