Manchester United coach Michael Carrick has revealed that he was a matter of days away from signing for Arsenal back in 2004 (via The Times).
It’s no secret that Arsenal have come close to signing some of the world’s best player but for whatever reason, they failed to do so.
The likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been touted as potential signings down the years but one player in a slightly different position came closest of all.
It was 2004 and the Gunners were on the lookout for a new central midfielder amid reports that captain Patrick Vieira would be leaving the club.
As it turned out, Arsenal looked across London at then West Ham midfielder, Michael Carrick.
“On the way home (from Portsmouth), we got another call,” Carrick recalls in his upcoming autobiography,
“‘Arsenal again, asking us to meet Arsene. As it happened we were driving past his home in north London, so we arranged to call in on the way. Within an hour I was sitting in the front room of Arsene Wenger’s house, pinching myself.
“We talked for almost an hour about football. Wenger had the Community Shield at the weekend but was spending an hour with me, so surely he had to be interested in signing me? “Let’s get Cardiff out the way, and we’ll see you Monday,” Wenger said as we left. Things were moving so fast I needed a few minutes to put it all into perspective.
“I’d heard [Patrick] Vieira was leaving Arsenal and that opened up a space in midfield, so it seemed nailed on that Monday morning I’d be an Arsenal player.”
Unfortunately for Carrick and Arsenal with hindsight, that Community Shield match saw the emergence of a 17-year-old Cesc Fabregas in midfield.
“I saw that a kid, Cesc Fabregas, only 17, started in Vieira’s place. Fabregas played a blinder but I didn’t think too much about the significance. I sat at home on Sunday night waiting for the call to arrange details of the next day. Arsenal! I couldn’t wait.
“But I waited, and waited, and that call never came. The next day, I had to go into training at West Ham instead and, on the way, David phoned to say he’d had a call from Dein. David relayed the gist of his message, like, “I’m sorry, the manager says we don’t need Michael. Fabregas is coming through like he is. Sorry, the deal’s off.” Fabregas’s performance changed Wenger’s mind about needing me.”
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It’s a fascinating anecdote and such a shame for Arsenal fans. Michael Carrick was the sort of player Arsenal were missing in midfield for a number of years and could have even formed an excellent partnership with Cesc Fabregas.