MICHAEL CARRICK was on the verge of joining Arsenal from West Ham in 2004.
But the Manchester United legend saw his transfer fall through due to Cesc Fabregas’ sudden emergence.
Carrick came through West Ham’s academy and eventually caught the attention of the Premier League’s elite.
The Hammers failure to earn promotion back to the Premier League in 2004 meant a summer departure was inevitable.
It would be two years before Jose Mourinho’s assistant were to join United from Tottenham.
However, the ex-England midfielder’s career could have turned out very differently if Arsene Wenger had followed up his strong interest.
Only a Fabregas masterclass for Arsenal in the Community Shield convinced the Frenchman to turn his back on signing Carrick from West Ham.
In his autobiography Michael Carrick: Between The Lines, serialised by The Times, he said: “Arsene Wenger was at the peak of his powers at the time, a giant of management, and it felt surreal to be there talking to him in his front room.
“’Tell me about yourself, Michael,’ Wenger said. ‘What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?’
“Let’s get Cardiff out the way, and we’ll see you Monday,’ Wenger said as we left”
“We talked for almost an hour about football.
“Wenger had the Community Shield at the weekend but was spending an hour with me, so surely he had to be interested in signing me?
“’Let’s get Cardiff out the way, and we’ll see you Monday,’ Wenger said as we left.
“I saw that a kid, Cesc Fabregas, only 17, started in Vieira’s place.
“Fabregas played a blinder but I didn’t think too much about the significance.
“I sat at home on Sunday night waiting for the call to arrange details of the next day. Arsenal! I couldn’t wait.
“But I waited, and waited, and that call never came.
“The next day, I had to go into training at West Ham instead and, on the way, David phoned to say he’d had a call from Dein.
“David relayed the gist of his message, like, ‘I’m sorry, the manager says we don’t need Michael. Fabregas is coming through like he is. Sorry, the deal’s off.’
“Fabregas’ performance changed Wenger’s mind about needing me.
“I was totally devastated as I had my heart set on Arsenal and playing with all that talent.”
Carrick ultimately joined Arsenal’s neighbours and West Ham’s rivals Tottenham instead in the summer of 2004.