Carrick: Super Cesc killed my Arsenal move

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Michael Carrick has revealed that Arsene Wenger wanted to sign him for Arsenal ahead of the 2004/05 season until a standout performance by 17-year-old Cesc Fabregas in the Community Shield changed his mind.

In his autobiography Carrick, who was 23 at the time and playing for West Ham in the First Division, reveals that he was overwhelmed when David Dein informed his agent of the interest and immediately took up an invitation to meet Wenger at his home despite Harry Redknapp wanting him at Portsmouth.

An extract published in The Times (£) reveals the Frenchman quizzed the midfielder on his strengths and weaknesses for an hour and promised he’d get back to him once Arsenal had played Manchester United in Cardiff.

Arsene Wenger’s side, with a mulleted Fabregas pulling the strings in midfield (“He’s only seventeen, He’s better than Roy Keane “) went on to win the game 3-1 courtesy of strikes from Gilberto and Jose Antonio Reyes and an own goal by Mikael Silvestre.

Persuaded that the teenage Spaniard might have the quality to be a long-term replacement for Patrick Vieira – the Frenchman would leave Highbury for Juventus 11 months later – Wenger opted against a move for Carrick. Understandably, he was devastated. All the more so, given he then had to join Sp*rs.

Carrick writes:

“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. Fàbregas is coming through like he is. Sorry, the deal’s off.” Fàbregas’s performance changed Wenger’s mind about needing me. I was totally devastated as I had my heart set on Arsenal and playing with all that talent. My head was gone. Arsenal had swayed me and I didn’t have a clue what I’d do now.”

In fairness, life didn’t work out too badly for Carrick. He went on to win a shedload of trophies at Manchester United, who he joined after two years at White Hart Lane.

In June last year, Wenger paid tribute to Carrick on the occasion of his Manchester United testimonial, lamenting his decision.

“I give Michael my deepest congratulations for his testimonial,” Wenger told Arsenal.com. “I think he deserves it hugely.

“I would say personally I’m an admirer of his career, of his quality.

“One of my regrets is never having had him as a player because I think he was one of the greatest players in English football.”

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Pedant
Pedant

Not joining Arsenal and having to join Sp*rs. Cruelty beyond belief.

And we could have done with him alongside Cesc.

SG_Goonner
SG_Goonner

we could have destroyed his career.. ahem

food for thought
food for thought

he was precisely the type of intelligent player who would thrive under the Arsene system, like Tomas, Dennis, Thierry, Freddie, Robert, Patrick.. my fingers are getting tired, but you get the point.

Matt
Matt

Cesc and Carrick wouldn’t have been bad. Oh well.

Cliff Bastin
Cliff Bastin

Well at least Sol Campbell fulfilled his dream of winning the league at white hart lane.

Teryima Adi
Teryima Adi

He went and had an awesome career at Manchester United. All’s Well That Ends Well

Petit's Handbag
Petit's Handbag

We really could have used him that season, as memory serves me Gilberto spent most of it injured and there was a lot of contract stuff with Edu going on too. I remember the Chelsea game at home and we started with Flamini and Cesc. Not 40 years between them.

Raymond
Raymond

Crazy wenger

Paul
Paul

Hindsight is 20:20

Cagooner
Cagooner

Hindsight is 20:20, and Wenger was already starting to lose the plot then. He stayed 10 years too long. But anyway, onwards and upwards. COYG.

A Different George
A Different George

Yeah, crazy old man saw this teenager and thought he might be a great football player. (As well as a champion pizza hurler.)

Teryima Adi
Teryima Adi

Hahahahaha

Post January Blip
Post January Blip

This is one of the instances where a manager is presented with a call to make seemingly out of nowhere. Wenger obviously knew of Cesc’s talent but maybe hadn’t anticipated him rising to the occasion as well as he did. Suddenly he has to decide whether to stick with the promising youngster, or to get a deal over the line for a transfer target.

The following quote from Wenger has been somewhat notoriously remembered, but I think captures the man’s principals quite well:

“I have been criticised for not hiring Xabi Alonso or Gareth Barry. But if I signed them, I would have killed Alex Song, Abou Diaby and Denilson.”

It might be difficult to say that any of those players lived up to expectations (for various reasons), but I think on this occasion – in spite of Carrick’s qualities – Wenger got it right and I’m glad Cesc wasn’t ‘killed’.

Also a fascinating insight into some of the nuances involved in transfers that we as supporters rarely have a view of.

Chamakhyungpark
Chamakhyungpark

well, Xabi Alonso was one of the best midfielders of his generation. Song, Diaby, and Denilson certainly were not. Wenger is a legend and I hate all the negativity he still gets from some of our fans (look at what he did ffs) but his loyalty to some players was his biggest weakness. But I see where he is coming from regarding Gareth Barry.

Almọnd
Almọnd

Imagine killing Denilson for Bareth Garry. Would have been a shot too far.

Post January Blip
Post January Blip

Agreed, it was his weakness. Still think he got this call right though.

Chamakhyungpark
Chamakhyungpark

Not signing Xabi Alonso, or not signing Michael Carrick?

SG_Gooner
SG_Gooner

Methinks Arsene was more interested in making sure his project and protégé succeed than Arsenal FC succeed.

Towards the latter half of his tenure, he had been trying to use us as his base for his school of philosophical thinking, educating youths, at our club’s expense.

Bob
Bob

This is a myopic view and frankly a little saddening to see. Wenger had his flaws for sure, and the last two, three years at the club were probably too many. But latter half?

You suggest that 11 of his years here are wasted? He transformed this club and established us as elite with our new stadium (look at the trouble Spurs and Chelsea are having with this now!) It might have been a while since we won the league, but don’t whitewash the other trophies we’ve won since then. I fucking love our FA cup record. And because of the stadium his hands were quite tied, so cup success was realistically our level considering the financial competition. How if we fell out of the Champions League that would have fucked us in terms of paying stadium debts, but he somehow kept us in there. We only fell out of that recently which basically marked the decline. And even then he’s left us with a solid squad which Emery can use to springboard his tenure.

So really, have some perspective. I’m surprised all this needs to be said to a fellow Arsenal fan, but Wenger was pretty good for us in many ways, as an understatement. And it’s fine for us to recognise he declined toward the end and for us to be doing well now without bashing half of his tenure with us.

A Different George
A Different George

And staying in the Champion’s League turns out not to be as simple as we thought. Ask Chelsea.

food for thought
food for thought

agreed. though i remember feeling like killing cesc when he left for farca.

BBJ
BBJ

“All the more so, given he then had to join Sp*rs.” Hahaha.

eternalflamini
eternalflamini

This stuff happens all the time (Ronaldo.. *sigh*) and there will always be multiple “ones that got away”… but hard not to imagine having a top English player in the centre of our midfield to build around. *double sigh*

Chamakhyungpark
Chamakhyungpark

cesc going to chelski and winning 2 titles makes me sick to the core.

Thierry bergkamp
Thierry bergkamp

I never rated him highly, always thought he was a cheap knock off. He couldn’t even get into the England team, that says a lot.

PeteyB
PeteyB

That’s probably more to do with the useless England managers than Carrick. I’m with Wenger when he says he was one of the best. Probably to understated for the old heads who just wanted guys who could ‘run araand a bit’

A Different George
A Different George

It’s hard to argue that Carrick should have been preferred to Gerrard and Lampard. (Man United supporters always argue he should have been, but I cannot seed it.)

Thierry bergkamp
Thierry bergkamp

Yeah, Gerrard and Lampard were a huge success, weren’t they.

MeSoHornsey
MeSoHornsey

Ex Scum and ex Manc but a very, very classy player l, it has to be said. I remember being really pissed off that we didn’t sign him AND have Cesc at the same time. And it wasn’t even about expense either I think his price was really low due to contract running down.

But wenger had this thing of ‘not killing’ one player with competition from another of a similar skill set.

Very frustrating, but then I remember being upset that he overlooked Emile Heskey and signed some French winger from Monaco instead so what the fuck do I know.

A Different George
A Different George

What happened to the Monaco guy?

adgonner
adgonner

The only likable player from Man Utd

Harish Hirani
Harish Hirani

Juan Mata.

I love the garden gnome, personally.

Great player.

Wreh's FA Cup dream
Wreh's FA Cup dream

Another player who we missed out on. Didn’t we hesitate on activating a first option on him until it expired and Chelsea outbid us?

Irrational Gunner

Did Mata fall into the “we can’t afford his wages” category? Seems we have missed out on alot of players for that reason.

doug
doug

And Yaya Toure and Zlatan. Feels like every so often they’ll talk about how close to signing with Arsenal they were but never sealed the deal

Goontang
Goontang

Oh Cesc. God I wish he had stayed with us. Seeing him rot on the bench at Chelsea just makes me sad. Yes I was angry at him for years beyond belief. But nothing will take away those wonderful years we had. Should still be captaining this side. If only it weren’t for that fucking barcelona dna virus.

Northern Gooner
Northern Gooner

I don’t begrudge Cesc going to barca at all. Local boy called to play in what was the best barca team ever and arguably the best team in the world at the time.

A team managed by Guardiola, himself a local legend and who shot to fame in the number 4 shirt that Fabregas was to inherit.

It all clicked into place.

It didn’t work out but you can’t begrudge him having a shot.

Sometimes you can love to clubs.

Northern Gooner
Northern Gooner

two not to…..where’s the edit option gone??

adgonner
adgonner

It was Cesc in the gleaming yellow O2 jersey sporting the hairband which made me fall in love with Arsenal.. he was the man at Arsenal, wasn’t he.

Rummy
Rummy

Couldn’t we have had both?!

chuqu
chuqu

I can’t lie, I actually shared tears when Cesc left us, he was so so loved by Gooners when he was with us, our golden boy then. I still can’t dislike him even though he now plays for Chelsea. Now we are just finding out he was the reason we didn’t sign Carrick. Cesc why?!

Wengerballz
Wengerballz

Imagine we had a decade of Carrick instead of Denilsons, Flaminis and Songs 😲

Hantal
Hantal

I’d have preferred Carrick. Cesc ultimately did nothing for us

Tungor_adams
Tungor_adams

We nurtured a very strong & dynamic combo in cesc and flamini, the latters career is nowhere near what carrick achieved, but had he stayed with us….. I am sure this question will haunt him 4ever.

Maybe with carrick along we wouldnt have had to withstand the unexplainable Denilson experiment.

santori
santori

Thank goodness.

Let'sGoArsenal
Let'sGoArsenal

Typical, don’t want to sign some player to protect some of our players, meanwhile other teams will sign him anyway and compete witht their current player and see which one better or suit with the game plan. I hope we will never do that again. Lol