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Arsene Wenger says Arsenal signing was booed by team-mates in training

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed that the squad booed Sol Campbell in training ahead of the north London derby in a bid to help prepare the defender for the hostile reaction he would receive after leaving Tottenham to join the Gunners in 2001.

Wenger also admitted that he is not sure he would sign Campbell again because of the reaction the player faced for moving between rivals.

Asked if it was true that the Arsenal squad booed Campbell in training ahead of facing Spurs, Wenger told German magazine 11 Freunde : “They did that, and they also made jokes about it.

“But the situation was really stressful for Sol and he told me afterwards how severe it became.

Sol Campbell caused controversy when he moved from Arsenal to Tottenham

“He couldn’t go to certain places for dinner or walk freely in London because of the anger of the Tottenham fans. In hindsight, I’m not sure if I would sign him again bearing in mind the difficulties he faced.”

The deal came as a major shock at the time, with no speculation coming out about the move beforehand and reporters led to believe that Arsenal were announcing the capture of goalkeeper Richard Wright from Everton when Campbell was officially unveiled.

Tottenham fans gave Sol Campbell a hostile reaction when he returned to White Hart Lane with Arsenal
Tottenham fans gave Sol Campbell a hostile reaction when he returned to White Hart Lane with Arsenal

Asked how they managed to keep the transfer under wraps, Wenger explained: “Until I presented Sol Campbell to the press, nobody could have ever imagined him in an Arsenal shirt.

“This transfer remained secret amongst the four of us: him, his agent, David and me. That cannot happen anymore in modern football because there are so many people involved in a transfer.

“We walked around the house in the countryside at night. I knew that it would cause heated debates in London, but I was truly convinced by the player.

“I thought he was capable of facing the adversity. For me, it was easy because everybody was conscious that I had signed a great player. But for him, it was more complicated.”

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Arsene Wenger makes Arsenal admission when quizzed on potential return

Arsene Wenger would return to Arsenal if needed, the legendary manager has confirmed.

Wenger left the Emirates in 2018 after spending 22 years at the helm.

During that time, he oversaw the club’s transition from Highbury to the Emirates while establishing the club’s status as a European powerhouse.

However, towards the end of his time at the Emirates Wenger drew criticism from large sections of the Arsenal fanbase for failing to challenge for the Premier League title or the Champions League.

Wenger has been linked with a return to management since leaving, but it appears his time in the dugout is over.

Arsene Wenger has admitted he would return to Arsenal if he was asked to

Arsenal are in the midst of a torrid start to the season, having failed to get going under Mikel Arteta.

They’ve had back-to-back league wins to help turn the tide, but the pressure is still there.

And this week, Wenger was asked whether he would ever consider a return to the club.

Arsene Wenger waved goodbye to Arsenal in 2018

He replied: “If I’m needed, I will help them, but I don’t expect that, no.”

Wenger hasn’t returned to the Emirates since leaving the club, having reportedly been unhappy with the way his exit was handled.

But he hinted the wound has finally healed, as he added: “Time is a good doctor, you know.”

Speaking earlier this season, Wenger heaped praise on Arteta and backed him to succeed at the club.

He said: “Mikel had passion for the game and big motivation, and good focus and a desire to do well. You could see the ingredients there, and he had a grip and influence on the other players.

“He’s lucky that straight away he got into a big club, in a position where you normally have to work ten years to get in that position. But because he played for the club and was a good player, he got his chance. I wish him well.”

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Serge Gnabry makes prediction about Arsene Wenger at Bayern Munich


Serge Gnabry claims his former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger would be a “fantastic” manager for Bayern Munich.

Wenger has been out of work since he left the Gunners in 2018 and turned down the Bayern job in November last year.

While Arsenal manager, Wenger oversaw Gnabry’s emergence from the academy in 2012 and the winger went on to make 18 appearances under the Frenchman.

But after a failed loan move to West Brom, Gnabry was sold for just £5million to Werder Bremen in 2016 and joined Bayern one year later.

The German has gone on to set Europe alight with his dazzling performances and helped the Bavarian giants clinch a historic treble last season.

Gnabry has made a bold prediction about Wenger

Bayern boss Hansi Flick was the mastermind of the Bundesliga, DFK-Pokal and Champions League triumphs, but Gnabry insists Wenger would also be a hit at the Allianz Arena.

“Do I think he [Wenger] could have success? For sure. He’s proven that he’s been a fantastic manager to lead a club,” said the 25-year-old.

“I would say the difference [between Wenger and Flick] for myself, being an older player, it’s probably easier to communicate with the coach.

Gnabry emerged from the Gunners’ academy under Wenger

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“When you just come in and you’re very young, sometimes you are maybe a little bit shy but football-wise they’re both on a very, very high level.”

Some of Gnabry’s best displays last season came in the Champions League, where he scored nine goals in 10 appearances.

One famous performance saw him score four past his former north London rivals Tottenham as Bayern ran rout with a 7-2 group-stage victory.

Gnabry added: “The biggest thing about it was to see some of my friends, they give me a lot of motivation.

Gnabry scored four and assisted once in the rout at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Would the Bayern Munich job suit Arsene Wenger? Have your say here.

“Obviously knowing the history and the atmosphere in the stadiums it is great to play in England, but in some way, because of my Arsenal history, you have more motivation against Spurs.

“Apart from that, every game is important and it’s been going well for me against London teams.”

Gnabry has four goals in five Bundesliga games this season, while league-leaders Bayern face a crunch trip to second-place Borussia Dortmund on Saturday evening.

Turning his attention to ‘Der Klassiker’, Gnabry said: “It’s very important because it’s the two best teams in the Bundesliga playing against each other.

“Whoever comes out on top, hopefully us, will gain a lot of confidence from that match for the rest of the season.

“Knowing the importance of that game, also internationally, a lot of people are going to watch the game, it makes it more valuable for us.”

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Jack Wilshere opens up on how Arsene Wenger reacted to him smoking


Former Arsenal star Jack Wilshere has revealed Arsene Wenger’s reaction to him being papped smoking cigarettes.

During his time at Arsenal, former fan favourite Wilshere was caught smoking on a number of occasions.

Two of the incidents occurred when the midfielder was enjoying on a night out, with the paparazzi quick to get a snap of him enjoying a hit of tobacco.

Wilshere didn’t care too much the first time he was seen puffing away, an attitude he had as he was enjoying arguably his best spell in an Arsenal shirt.

Jack Wilshere expected a serious telling off from Arsene Wenger after he was caught smoking

That stance, however, soon changed when he realised he’d have to discuss the issue with Wenger at Arsenal’s London Colney training ground the following day.

Understandably, Wilshere was expecting to receive a rollicking from the Frenchman.

What transpired, however, couldn’t have been any further from a telling off.

Sergio Aguero (Man City) – 293 games

Harry Kane (Tottenham) – 300 games

Thierry Henry (Arsenal) – 321 games

Alan Shearer (Newcastle) – 380 games

Wayne Rooney (Man Utd) – 405 games

“I look back now and realise I made mistakes,” Wilshere said of his time at Arsenal during an appearance Sky’s Super 6 podcast.

“At the time, I thought they (the media) were picking on me. I had support around me, from the manager. Arsene was brilliant like that.

“I remember the first time I got caught with a cigarette and the media put it in the paper and that didn’t really bother me, because I was confident I was doing well enough in football.

‘The one thing that was in my head was, ‘Oh my god, the boss is going to kill me’.

“I remember going in the next day, going up to the training pitch and the boss was there.

“He was like, ‘Don’t worry, when I have a drink I like a cigarette as well!’

Arsene Wenger told Jack Wilshere he enjoyed a cigarette when has a drink

“I was like, ‘Oh my god, thank God for that!’. I learnt things and it’s easier now to get caught out because of social media.”

Wilshere, 28, is currently a free agent after mutually agreeing to terminate his £100,000-a-week contract with West Ham.

The England international, whose career has been riddled with injury, is currently on the lookout for a new club.





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Arsene Wenger weighs in on Arsenal for making Gunnersaurus redundant


Arsene Wenger has slammed Arsenal’s sacking of club mascot Gunnersaurus as “unjustifiable” and “incomprehensible”.

Jerry Quy worked in the role donning the much-loved dinosaur suit for 27 years before he was one of 55 staff to be made redundant in a cost-cutting exercise by the club last month.

On the same day, Arsenal forked out £45million to sign Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid.

Arsenal were widely criticised for the way they handled the situation, and former Gunners boss Wenger has now given his verdict.

Asked by So Foot how he took the news, Wenger responded: “Badly. The decision was financially unjustifiable. I don’t know what got into them.

Arsene Wenger has criticised Arsenal for making Gunnersaurus redundant

“No one can understand it. Everyone who loves Arsenal didn’t take the decision well. I’m part of them.

“They laid off 55 people, which could possibly be explained by a certain reorganisation, a desire for efficiency. The mascot cannot be justified by a desire to rebalance finances. It’s incomprehensible.”

Quy had effectively been put out of work following the coronavirus crisis as matches went behind closed doors.

Mikel Arteta’s Gunners have been starved of title glory for a while now – but things could be changing as a new-look Arsenal side plot a course to success.

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New signings Gabriel Magalhaes and Thomas Partey have hit the ground running following their big money summer arrivals, and the new-look Gunners are going all out for a top four spot and Europa League glory this term.

The Mesut Ozil situation continues to hang in the background and there’s plenty going on in North London to keep abreast of.

Want to sign up and follow Arteta’s journey? Put your email at the top of this article or follow the instructions on this link.

Outcast Arsenal star Mesut Ozil quickly curried favour with fans by offering to pay Quy’s salary for as long as he remains a player at the club – though that now looks likely to only be until June, while former Gunners legend Ray Parlour branded the offer a “PR stunt”.

Quy was not the only person to lose their job in the round of redundancies.

Well respected scout Francis Cagigao was also let go by the club after more than two decades’ service, having been hired by Wenger at the start of the Frenchman’s tenure.

Asked recently if the departure came as a shock, Wenger told the Guardian: “Yes, because Cagigao did outstanding work.

“I was amazed but what is the real reason?

“Certainly it was not financial because we spent a lot of money after that.

“I don’t know if you put the wages together of these 55 people that you can buy a player with it.”





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Ray Parlour recalls only time he saw Arsene Wenger “really lose it” at Arsenal


Arsene Wenger rarely lost his cool as Arsenal manager, but a dire 45 minutes at Old Trafford saw the Frenchman erupt.

Ray Parlour has recalled the only time he ever saw the former Gunners boss let rip at his players.

But despite being 5-1 down at Manchester United in 2001 the midfielder confesses to laughing amid Wenger’s fury.

Arsenal went on to lose the clash 6-1 and Parlour had to put a towel over his head to prevent his hysterics being seen.

“One game he really lost it,” Parlour told TalkSport. “That was at Manchester United, Old Trafford, and we were 5-1 down at half-time.

Arsene Wenger rarely lost his temper as Arsenal boss

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“I’d never seen him lose his temper at half-time or after the game. This time he really lost it. You know when it doesn’t suit someone?

“I remember I was going to start laughing. He’s trying to swear, in a French accent. I remember sitting there and put a towel over my head and I was looking at my boots.

“David Seaman said he could see my shoulders going up and down because I was laughing.

“It was one of those where you couldn’t have eye contact. If I looked at David Seaman and he looked at me then everyone would have started laughing. He was very calm usually.”

Arsenal shipped six goals at Man Utd

Arsenal and United will renew rivalries on Sunday as they square off in Manchester.

Both teams have endured mixed starts to their domestic seasons but each won in Europe this week.

Mikel Arteta’s first win as Arsenal boss came against United on New Year’s Day at the Emirates.

First-half goals from Nicolas Pepe and Sokratis ensured the Gunners ran out 2-0 winners.

Where will Arsenal finish this season? Have your say here.

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Arsene Wenger warns European Super League would “destroy” Premier League


Arsene Wenger has claimed a European Super League is being devised as a plot to “destroy” the Premier League.

After Project Big Picture’s resounding failure, there have been increasing reports that the “big six” in England’s top-flight could force a breakaway league.

Top clubs from the Premier League, will join teams from France, Germany, Italy and Spain if talks are successful, with a proposed 18-team league on the agenda.

Outgoing Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu revealed the La Liga giants have already agreed to join the league, which could start as soon as 2022.

Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed Barcelona would join the proposed league after announcing his departure as the club’s president

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“Today I can announce a piece of news that will extraordinarily change the club’s revenue prospects for the coming years,” said the departing chief.

“The board of directors yesterday approved the acceptance of the requirements to participate in a future European super league of football clubs, a project promoted by the big clubs in Europe.”

But Wenger, who is now employed as FIFA’s head of global football development, has said that a new European League is only being discussed in order to remove the Premier League’s financial advantage.

“The Premier League has a superiority,” he told the Guardian. “The Project (Big Picture) wanted to reinforce this superiority.

“The other leagues try to destroy the advantage the Premier League has.

Do you agree with Wenger about the proposed European Super League? Have your say here.

Wenger’s role sees him head up FIFA’s global development plans

“For them, the best thing to attain is to create a European league. So that means to destroy the Premier League, basically.

“So if they get the agreement from the English big clubs, it will happen.

Asked if it was simply a business decision, he added: “It is football as well. But of course, we are in the period of owners who are investors.

“What are investors’ first target? It’s to make more money. And so that the European Super League is one way maybe to make more money.”

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Arsene Wenger takes swipe at Arsenal board after making major axe


Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has expressed his disappointment at the decision to dispense of the services of scouting guru Francis Cagigao.

Arsenal have been hit hard financially by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and in the summer the decision was made taken to make 55 people redundant.

The scouting department at the Emirates was impacted the most with a number of exits including that of Cagigao.

Cagigao was instrumental in the signings of Cesc Fabregas, Santi Cazorla, Hector Bellerin, Emiliano Martinez and Jose Antonio Reyes over the years and well respected within the industry.

Francis Cagigao has left Arsenal after more than 20 years at the club

Cagigao joined the club early on in Wenger’s reign at Arsenal and had the trust and faith of the Frenchman.

And Wenger has expressed his shock at Cagigao’s exit, claiming the decision could not have been due to financial reasons.

“Yes, because Cagigao did outstanding work,” he told the Guardian.

Former Arsenal scout Francis Cagigao

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“I was amazed but what is the real reason?

“Certainly it was not financial because we spent a lot of money after that.

“I don’t know if you put the wages together of these 55 people that you can buy a player with it.”

Another major exit from Arsenal was that of beloved mascot Gunnersaurus.

Jerry Quy, who had worn the outfit since 1993, was also let go after the club determined he was not needed due to fans being unable to attend matches.





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Arsene Wenger sends message to Mesut Ozil as he’s axed from Arsenal squad


Arsene Wenger has advised Mesut Ozil to start looking for new clubs now after being axed from Arsenal’s Premier League squad.

The German was left out of Arsenal’s 25-man Europa League squad last week and on Tuesday learnt he will not be playing in the Premier League until February at the earliest.

It is the confirmation that was coming that Ozil, who is in the final year of his club-record £350,000-a-week contract at Arsenal, has no future at the club.

It also suggests he has probably already played his final game for the Gunners.

Wenger signed Ozil for Arsenal back in 2013.

Arsene Wenger has advised Mesut Ozil to start looking for new clubs now

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He has advised him the German keep his head up and start looking for a new club now so that he can continue his career seamlessly elsewhere.

“You practice every day and you make sure that your level doesn’t drop and that you can go somewhere else after and play somewhere else,” Wenger told Sky Sports.

Ozil, who is in the final year of his contract at Arsenal, has no future at the club

On whether he has kept in touch with Ozil, or given him advice in person, he added: “No, I haven’t spoken to him since I left.

“Because I decided to take a distance and not interfere with anything. I explained in my book, when you’ve been [at a club] for such a long time it’s important you cut at some stage your relations and let them get on with it.”

Has Mesut Ozil played his final game for Arsenal? Have your say here.

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Arsene Wenger outlines just how close Cristiano Ronaldo was to joining Arsenal


Arsene Wenger has revealed how close he came to signing Cristiano Ronaldo – and says he still trembles at the thought of what he and Thierry Henry could have achieved together at Arsenal.

Ronaldo has become a global superstar since joining Manchester United from Sporting Lisbon in 2003, going on to star for Real Madrid, Juventus and Portugal.

He has won five Champions League titles and been named Ballon d’Or winner five times, as well as winning four Club World Cups and domestic titles in England, Spain and Italy.

The 35-year-old has scored 641 career goals at club level plus another 101 on the international stage as Portugal’s all-time leading goalscorer.

At United, Ronaldo helped fire Sir Alex Ferguson’s side to three Premier League titles, the Champions League and the Club World Cup before joining Madrid in an £85million move in 2009.

Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo could have been in the same team as Thierry Henry

But it could so easily have been Arsenal who benefited from his services for those years, as Wenger has detailed in an interview published this week.

And at the time that would have given the Gunners a fearsome forward line of Ronaldo, Henry and Dennis Bergkamp.

And Wenger says the idea of such an attack still makes him perspire.

“When I had Thierry, I could have signed (Cristiano) Ronaldo,” Wenger told the latest edition of FourFourTwo.

Arsene Wenger was beaten to Ronaldo’s signature by his great rival Sir Alex Ferguson

“Can you imagine what they could have done together?

“That makes you sweat a little bit, and I was very close to doing it. I thought it was all done.

Holding his index finger and thumb within a millimetre of each other to illustrate just how narrowly he missed out, Wenger told the magazine: “It was that close.

“But I would say that every club could tell you stories like that.”

The new issue of FourFourTwo is out on Wednesday, October 21

Wenger last week admitted that Ronaldo had even been given an Arsenal shirt ready for a switch to north London.

But United’s link-up with Sporting got in the way of a deal.

“We had an agreement with Sporting and Man United took Carlos Queiroz as assistant coach, and they just outbid us quickly and took Ronaldo,” Wenger said.

“But we had an agreement basically.

Ronaldo helped fire Manchester United to the Champions League title in 2008

“He had the shirt of Arsenal – I had lunch with him and his mother at the training ground!”

During his 22-year spell in the Arsenal hotseat, Wenger guided the Gunners to three Premier League titles, seven FA Cups and seven Community Shield wins.

It’s a very respectable trophy haul – but it’s not hard to imagine it could have been so much bigger had the Frenchman not been pipped to Ronaldo’s signature by his great rival Ferguson all those years ago.

The full version of the interview with Arsene Wenger appears in the new issue of FourFourTwo – on sale on Wednesday, October 21. Also in the issue: Luka Modric answers readers questions, Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock gives his rundown of the hardest footballers and we look back at Gazza’s 39 days in charge of Kettering. To sign up for a FourFourTwo subscription starting at £9.99 per quarter click here.





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