Former Arsenal star Martin Keown has revealed that Chelsea made an attempt to sign Thierry Henry when Roman Abramovich first took over the club, but that the Gunners flatly refused it.
Answering questions in his column for the Daily Mail, Keown explained how Henry was flattered with the handling of the situation from the powers that be at north London, comparing it to how David Luiz might have felt had Chelsea turned down the £50 million offer from Paris Saint-Germain for his services last summer.
Chelsea's Henry rejection
With Henry’s status as arguably the best Arsenal player to have ever donned a shirt cemented in the years between Abramovich’s Blues takeover and when he left for Barcelona, many football fans will wonder what might have been. According to Keown though, there was never any doubt about how the bid from Chelsea was going to play out.
"When Roman Abramovich first took over at Chelsea, he offered a lot of money for Thierry Henry, but Arsenal refused and Henry was flattered by it. I think Luiz would have been half-hoping for that same reaction from Chelsea," Keown revealed.
What might have been
Indeed Arsenal supporters will be glad to know that Chelsea’s advances were spurned, even when Abramovich's financial muscle was at the height of its influence. The Russian billionaire transformed the Blues into title contenders quite soon after his arrival, and though there’s no specific sum mentioned it’s safe to say he would have paid whatever Arsene Wenger had wanted for Henry.
The right or wrong decision?
The France legend was at the time about to embark upon a campaign that would see him bag a personal record of 39 goals across all competitions. The 2003/04 season saw the Arsenal side he was a major part become ‘The Invincibles’ and so it’s with little doubt that it can be claimed he doesn’t regret leaving north London.
However in the long run it was Chelsea who ended up getting the last laugh, as they surged ahead of the Gunners in the English rankings and established a successful, if brief, era of dominance under Jose Mourinho. The next summer they convinced Marseille to part ways with an emerging forward by the name of Didier Drogba, and his exploits in the Premier League, though not quite a match for Henry’s, don’t need detailing here.
In the end Henry got the Champions League medal he was looking for with Barcelona, as well as a few other trophies that made his post-Arsenal career worthwhile. In staying at Highbury he might have sacrificed silverware, but he gave himself the platform to aspire to be something most players can only dream of; a club hero.
Chelsea fans, just how good might Henry have been at Stamford Bridge? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below...