Michael Carrick reveals how Cesc Fabregas scuppered his Arsenal move


Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick has revealed in his new autobiography that he was on the brink of joining Arsenal in the summer of 2004 before the wonder of a still teenage Cesc Fabregas derailed the deal. 

Carrick was playing in the first division with West Ham at the time who were under financial strain and keen to offload players. A number of clubs were interested but it was then Premiership Portsmouth who became clear frontrunners and with the new season beginning in just a matter of days Carrick drove to Heathrow to meet Harry Redknapp. 

But just as Carrick was in the car, his agent received a call from Arsene Wenger’s right-hand man, David Dein. Arsenal were interested and asked if Carrick could meet with Wenger himself.

“We were driving past his home in north London, so we arranged to call in on the way,” Carrick said an excerpt from his upcoming autobiography published in The Times. “Within an hour I was sitting in the front room of Arsène Wenger’s house, pinching myself. Could this really be happening? Arsenal! Could I really be on the verge of signing for the Invincibles who’d just gone through the season unbeaten?

On his way out Wenger told Carrick that he would get in touch after Arsenal’s Community Shield fixture two days later.

Michael Carrick is now Jose Mourinho’s assistant at Manchester United (Getty)

Thrilled at the prospect of replacing Patrick Vieira in the ‘Invincibles’ side, Carrick called Redknapp to let him know about the offer as Arsenal and West Ham began to negotiate a fee. But in Cardiff less than 48 hours later, a 17-year-old Spaniard made a mercurial debut against Manchester United in Cardiff.

“I saw that a kid, Cesc Fàbregas, only 17, started in Vieira’s place. Fàbregas 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. Fàbregas is coming through like he is. Sorry, the deal’s off.’ Fàbregas’s performance changed Wenger’s mind about needing me.”

Michael Carrick and Cesc Fabregas have faced each other numerous times (Getty)

Redknapp, ears pricked by the possibility of recapturing Carrick, called and offered to drive down to see him only to be dissuaded. Carrick said that the move to Portsmouth no longer felt right and completely off the cards. After a tumultuous few days, it looked as though he would spend another season at West Ham after all. 

But just as he began to give up hope, Geiss received another call. It was Tottenham’s sporting director, Frank Arnesen, who declared the club’s intentions to sign him immediately and so they did. Carrick spent two seasons with the arch-rivals of the club who turned their back on him before making his final move to Manchester United.

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