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Demba Ba came within inches of dream move to Arsenal

The striker ended up at Turkish side Besiktas, who the Gunners dumped out of the Champions League this week

Demba Ba has said he came very close to joining Arsenal this summer but insisted he was happy to have joined Besiktas, despite his new club’s Champions League defeat to the Gunners.

The striker, who left Chelsea for £8m in July, was unable to prevent Arsenal reaching the Champions League group stage for the 17th year in a row. Alexis Sanchez’s goal at the Emirates on Wednesday night gave the Gunners a 1-0 aggregate victory over Besiktas in the play-off.

Afterwards, Ba was asked whether he had made the right decision to move to Turkey and, with Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud now out until next year, did he regret not joining Arsène Wenger’s side.

“I’m happy at Besiktas,” he replied. “How close did I come to joining Arsenal? As close as you and me here, but it’s past. I just look forwards.

“Everybody knew that I wanted to come here [to Arsenal]. I could have maybe waited longer in this transfer window, but I wanted to go and play for Besiktas because it’s a great club.”

Asked whether Chelsea would have let him join one of their Premier League rivals, Ba added: “Yes, because this time Jose [Mourinho] told me. Last summer he wanted to keep me, but he said this time if I had any opportunity he would let me go.”