Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini joins the list of players that “could have signed for Arsenal” when former manager Arsene Wenger was in charge.
He says that his decision to turn them down is one that he still regrets.
The Italian centre back went on to establish himself as one of the finest defenders in world football. He has amassed nine Serie A titles with Juventus.
He revealed that Wenger had tried to sign him nearly 20 years ago. At the time, he was playing for Livorno.
Such was the attachment to his boyhood club that he rejected advances from Arsenal. He joins an illustrious list of players that almost signed for Arsenal, including Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
While he loved Livorno, the club would not have helped him realise his true potential. He was signed by Roma just a year later before he eventually signed for Juventus in 2005. He has been at the club since then, amassing 500 appearances for the Old Lady.
Chiellini may have tasted a huge amount of success at Juventus, but believes he was a fool not to sign for The Gunners. With the benefit of hindsight, he now believes that the move to north London would have been the right career move.
Speaking about interest from Arsenal, he said, “In hindsight, I was a fool to decline that offer. I was 16 years old, I played in Serie C, I got a huge offer.
“I didn’t feel ready. If I had accepted, it would have given the impression of betraying Livorno.”
Van Persie requested board to sign Chiellini
It is worth noting that Arsenal did not give up on its interest at that point. The club was asked by club captain Robin van Persie to try to sign Chiellini.
“At a given moment I felt called upon to say what Arsenal could do better in order to win the league,” van Persie said last year.
“I felt we lacked a winning mentality, and asked Arsene Wenger to sign Giorgio Chiellini.
“I have played against him a few times, and he is a genuine winner.
“He is 36 years old, but he’ll dish out nine elbows every game with a smile on his face. He’ll keep smiling and never get a yellow card. You need those types of winners and killers in your side. I felt we should get him,” van Persie said.