Arsenal

I held transfer talks with Tottenham… but joined Arsenal after Spurs paid for a taxi to take me there

EMMANUEL PETIT opened up about Arsenal’s mastermind plan to hijack Tottenham’s move for the Frenchman in 1997.

And the former midfielder revealed Spurs even paid for his taxi ride to Arsene Wenger’s house.

Petit’s former Monaco boss Wenger joined the Gunners in 1996 and transformed the club.

And a year later the star found himself in London with Spurs chairman Alan Sugar to talk about a transfer from Monaco to White Hart Lane.

But as soon as Wenger heard about his former player in the capital he made sure Petit heard his pitch first before signing anything.

So after his chat with Tottenham, the player asked them for some time to think about the offer at his hotel.

The North London club even paid for his taxi back but the car did a detour to Wenger’s house, where he then sealed a deal with the Gunners for £2.5million.

He said on talkSPORT: “I had meetings on the same day with Tottenham and Arsenal.

“I met Tottenham in the morning, but when I came to England I didn’t know about the rivalry between the two clubs.

“When I left the Spurs stadium, they booked me a cab and the cab driver asked me for directions, so I gave him the Arsenal address and I didn’t realise that the cab was pre-paid by Spurs, so they knew where I was going!

I told Spurs that I needed time to think about it but knew that I had to see Arsenal, as well as other clubs in Italy and Spain.

“I told everyone that I’d make my mind up and when I knew the answer I would give it, but after a couple of days I signed for Arsenal and it went into newspapers and all of a sudden the story came.

“I realised the pressure of the rivalry then.”

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Arsenal were challenging for Premier League glory while Spurs were battling it out in the relegation zone in the 1997-98 season.

By the end of Petit’s first campaign, he was a Premier League and FA Cup winner.

And that summer he and Arsenal midfield partner Patrick Vieira helped France to the World Cup.

Spurs struggled through the season and ended up finishing in 14th.
Petit left Arsenal in 2000 for Barcelona and returned to England and joined Chelsea in 2001, retiring at the club in 2004

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