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Michael Carrick was on the verge of joining Arsenal before a sensational display from Cesc Fabregas in the Community Shield caused the move to collapse.
Carrick was hot property in 2004, with West Ham in the second tier of English football and desperate for money.
Arsenal were one of many clubs to express interest and the former midfielder even met Arsene Wenger at his north London home.
The deal was due to be completed on a Monday, but the Gunners faced Manchester United in the Community Shield on the day before and Fabregas was so impressive he rendered Carrick surplus to requirements.
Carrick, currently Jose Mourinho’s assistant at Man United, revealed in an extract from his new autobiography: “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.
“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. I saw that a kid, Cesc Fabregas, only 17, started in Vieira’s place.