Ex-Arsenal star reveals United snub before Chelsea move

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Arsenal double-winner Emmanuel Petit has revealed that he rejected the chance to join Manchester United and signed for Chelsea instead.

The former French international midfielder has claimed that Sir Alex Ferguson came to scout him twice whilst he was playing for Barcelona in an in-depth interview with The Daily Mail.

But, rather than make the move to Old Trafford, the 43-year-old decided to turn down the Red Devils in favour of a new challenge in west London.

"I had the opportunity to sign for Manchester United because Sir Alex Ferguson came to see me play twice at Barcelona, and I had the chance to play alongside Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Roy Keane," the Frenchman told the paper.

"But I decided to have a new challenge so I signed for Chelsea."

And, despite failing to win a trophy during his three-year spell at Stamford Bridge, Petit certainly didn't regret joining the Blues.

"At that time Roman Abramovich wasn't there and Ken Bates wanted to sell Chelsea. They did not have much money to spend in the transfer market. Despite all of that, we had a quality squad and tried to compete but we did not have enough talent especially on the bench. That is why we could fight for only six months of the season," he added.

"I don't regret my three years at Chelsea. The only thing I regret is my final year when I had two big operations and I had to stop playing football."

After his operation, Petit did attempt to kick-start his career once again, returning to Arsenal in an effort to gain fitness.

But, despite the efforts of the club and Arsene Wenger in north London, he was unable to recapture full fitness.

"Arsenal were there to help me get back on track," he concluded to the paper.

"I tried and tried, weeks and weeks with Arsenal and Arsene. The club were so kind to open the door to their training facilities for me. Arsene came to me and said if you can reach a certain level physically then I will sign a contract with you.

"I tried my best to come back but the pain was so bad."

Petit began his Premier League career with the Gunners back in 1997, spending three years at Highbury alongside Patrick Vieira in the heart of midfield. He helped the club to a famous double during his first year in England.

He then moved to Barcelona, but only spent a season with the La Liga giants before returning to the Premier League.

That's where a spell with Manchester United could have taken place, and Ferguson reportedly took an interest in the player.

But, after missing out on Petit, the Red Devils spent over £28million to bring Juan Sebastian Veron to the club. His spell, like the Frenchman's in the capital, was unsuccessful.

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