Michael Carrick says he would have joined Arsenal if Cesc Fabregas didn’t have a masterclass performance in the 2004 Community Shield.
The former Tottenham and Manchester United midfielder has revealed that the Spanish star impressed Arsene Wenger so much that he cancelled Carrick’s imminent move to Highbury.
Carrick, who was ready to leave West Ham for Premier League football had arranged to go to Harry Redknapp’s Portsmouth for a medical, but Gunners chief David Dein called and asked Carrick to stop by Arsene Wenger’s house for a chat.
In his autobiography Michael Carrick: Between The Lines, which is being serialised by The Times, he said: “Arsene Wenger was at the peak of his powers at the time, a giant of management, and it felt surreal to be there talking to him in his front room.
“’Tell me about yourself, Michael,’ Wenger said. ‘What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?’
“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.”
Carrick said: “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’ 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.”
Carrick instead ended up joining Arsenal’s rivals Tottenham that summer.
He would go on to play for United and England in his 19-year career.