Michael Carrick has revealed how the emergence of Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas blocked his dream move to Arsenal back in 2004. 

Carrick was then a West Ham player but, with the Hammers strapped for cash, he was put up for sale to try and generate some much-needed funds.

The midfielder was one of the most sought-after English youngsters at the time and, following the news that he was for sale, a host of potential suitors came after his signature – one of which was then-Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

Writing in his autobiography (via Goal), Carrick recalls: “Then, on the way home, we got another call. 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. 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?

“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. That night, I sat at the bottom of my bed and talked it through with Lisa, just running all the possibilities through my mind. It came from nowhere. My head was spinning. Arsenal were finishing either first or second in the Premiership.”

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However, Arsene Wenger gave Cesc Fabregas a chance in the 2004 Community Shield, with the Spaniard putting in a stellar performance in the 3-1 win over Manchester United, to truly announce himself to Arsenal fans and coaching staff alike.

“On the Sunday, I settled down at home in Theydon Bois, Epping, to watch Arsenal, my team to be, in the Community Shield against Manchester United,” Carrick adds.

“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 [David] 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.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

“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.”

Despite missing out on his dream move to Arsenal, Carrick still enjoyed an immensely successful career, making 706 club appearances and winning five Premier League titles, a Champions League medal and a whole host of other major trophies during his 12-year stay with Manchester United, before finally retiring at the end of last season.

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The former England international has since taken up a coaching role under the stewardship of Jose Mourinho at Man Utd.

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