Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has revealed how he almost signed for Arsenal as a teenager only for a deal to be vetoed by the club, leading to him to sign for Manchester United instead.
Pique left Catalonia for Manchester in 2004 around a year after Cesc Fabregas had too departed the Camp Nou in favour of a move to England and, he explains, Barcelona were reluctant for him to tread precicesly the same path.
The centre-back had appeared set to follow Fabregas to Arsenal, going so far as to have a meeting with the club’s manager Arsene Wenger, but Barcelona vetoed the move which allowed Manchester United to make their own approach.
“I remember that first of all Arsenal were interested in me and I had a meeting with Arsène Wenger,” Pique told The Telegraph.
“I was close to going to Arsenal but the year before Cesc Fabregas went there and Arsenal and Barcelona were in a little fight and they didn’t want to do the same with me. Manchester United came in and finally I went there.”
Pique spent four years at Old Trafford before he left Manchester United for a return to Barcelona, although he retains fond memories of his time spent with the Red Devils given the warmth shown to him from day one by Sir Alex Ferguson.
“Before I signed we had a dinner with Sir Alex Ferguson and my family and I was surprised, because he was the coach of Man Utd for 20 years and he had the time to come and speak with my family and with me,” Pique added.
“I was just a young kid who had never played for a professional team but he had the time for me. We were grateful to have him in that dinner. It shows a lot about him and how he worked at United.”