Transfer gold: Arsenal sign coveted Ligue 1 star despite strong Madrid interest

first_imgHe was loved at Arsenal and dazzled everyone else, picking up the Football Writers award in 2002 and being named in three PFA teams of the year.“It’s difficult to pick out one or two highlights but he was superb in our double-winning season during the 2001/02 campaign and contributed hugely to our unbeaten season with 19 goals,” Wenger said of him.However, his time finished in disappointing fashion when the club lost the 2006 Champions League final and he was replaced after 20 minutes because of Jens Lehmann’s red card. At 32, Arsenal offered him a one year contract extension when he wanted more and he eventually joined Villarreal in 2006.REVEALED: The 25 greatest Premier League players everMore Arsenal Transfer GoldArsenal sign Torino striker in club record dealWhen Arsenal appalled the FA to sign striker for a transfer recordWhen Arsenal manager interrupted Celtic striker’s holiday to try and sign him Arsenal sign Robert Pires on 4 July, 2000 2 On 4 July, 2000, Arsenal spent £5m on Marseille’s Robert Pires and it was one of the best transfers the club have ever completed.Having arrived as World Cup and European Championship winner, his collection of medals continued to grow in north London during his six glorious years. He played 284 times, scored 84 goals and won the Premier League twice in addition to three FA Cups.But it could have been so different for the creative Ligue 1 star.“I would have preferred to have played for Real Madrid, but the words of Wenger gave me more security,” Pires explained upon his signing.The Spanish club were heavily linked with him, but the player was wary of not playing regularly in LaLiga and had seen what happened to compatriot Nicolas Anelka following his £22m move in 1999.“Nico was a signing of the president and did not fit in with the plans of the coach. My decision to sign for Arsenal was not just about money but also the opportunity to play,” he said, adding that he never actually spoke with Madrid boss Vicente Del Bosque, whereas he had been in constant communication with Wenger since December.He also revealed his admiration for what Wenger did for the careers of international team-mates, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit as well as Anelka. 2last_img read more

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