I did wonder if Wenger alluding to his wages being the issue when they are most certainly affordable for us was more Wenger not wanting to pay this type of player that kind of money when we've already got some significant midfield wages on the bill. I think it may also be worth pointing out that going to Chelsea being "obviously" about money could also be he didn't want to lay out 30 million on this type of player too.
Realistically we're not going to have what a lot of fans might want which is players like Ozil and Alexis on £250k and then on top of that have the rest of the players on £110k or more. A big club might have a wage spread something like 250, 200, 150, 130, 110, 90, 80, 70, 70, 50, 40, 40, 30, etc. and your defensive midfielder is rarely going to be towards the top of the scale.
However I think for Kante it would have 100% been worth it. It's a cliche but he does really feel like he does the job of one and a half players and he's been arguably player of the year for Chelsea and maybe arguably for Leicester too. He's not just making the odd tackle and passing it sideways and world class attackers are winning their games single handedly, he's a fundamental part of this team.
I think Ramsey is on the same kind of money as Kante so we could have tried to move him on to free up that spot but I doubt Wenger would have really wanted to add that kind of wage to an already packed midfield (at the time he was assuming Wilshere would be here too) and I doubt he'd want to actively move on any players that are fit. Even without being injured though Ramsey has been pretty pointless this season with no real role in the team, we might as well have tried to get rid of him.
And if Wenger really thought Xhaka was a box to box player then Kante would have been a great partner. He really should have been thinking long term with Cazorla's fitness issues and Elneny surely never looking at any point like he'd become a regular but now we're going to have to go and look for someone else to fill that hole.