Arsene Wenger has revealed that Pep Guardiola came to his house to ask to play for Arsenal but he was told he wasn’t needed.
If you’re wondering why Arsene Wenger is everywhere this weekend it’s because his long-awaited book finally drops on 13 October. As a result, he’s on a book promo tour, appearing on TV programmes like Graham Norton and speaking with all the major papers.
“When Guardiola was still a player, he came to my home to ask to play for Arsenal,” Wenger said. “At the time I had [Patrick] Vieira. I had Gilberto Silva. I couldn’t take him.”
Guardiola played for Barcelona from from 1984, when he moved to the club aged just 13 until 2001 when he signed for Brescia in 2001 on a free transfer.
He spent one season with Brescia before a free transfer to Roma where he stayed six months before being sold back to Brescia for £585k. Guardiola stayed there for just five months before moving to Al-Ahil SC on another free.
Gilberto Silva didn’t sign for Arsenal until 2002 so Guardiola must have contacted Wenger after he left Barcelona and had already signed for Brescia.
It’s also worth noting that in November 2001 Guardiola, while at Brescia, tested positive twice for the steroid nadrolone after just two matches for the Italians. He was suspended for four months and his appeal was unsuccessful.
You can’t really fault Wenger for saying no to Guardiola.
The midfielder was over 30 at a time Wenger was ruthless with players in that age bracket. The Spaniard’s playing career was clearly on the wind down and in Gilberto and Vieira, Wenger had laid the foundations for the team that would win the league without losing a single match in the 03/04 season.