Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has detailed how he managed to beat North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur to the signing of Danny Welbeck in front of the Pope.
Wenger is currently doing a press tour to promote his new book and in one of his latest stops, in conversation with David Ornstein at the Athletic, he revealed one of his most astonishing stories thus far.
Ornstein, who has covered Arsenal extensively over the years, mentions some of the transfer stories that Wenger tells in his book and asks if there are any specific to Arsenal that people may not be aware of, to which Wenger then replies.
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“Yes. Danny Welbeck when I went to the Match for Peace.
“At the airport I was told he was signing for Tottenham and I managed to intercept him.
Arsene Wenger during an interview at the Mercedes Benz Building prior to the Laureus World Sports Awards on February 17, 2020 in Berlin, Germany.
Image credit: Getty Images
“It was a funny story because I was negotiating all day. We had Ivan (Gazidis) and Dick Law to negotiate and they called me up and I had the agent on the phone.
And I told him, ‘Look, I have to hang up because I’m in front of the Pope’.
He said to me, ‘What?’. I said ‘Yes’, because we were queuing to have a photo with the Pope in a private audience, and I was at the back of the queue because I had to talk and negotiate.
“I arrived in front of the Pope and I had to say, ‘Look, that’s not possible anymore. I will meet the Pope now.’”
Despite understandably prioritising the Pope, Wenger still managed to bring Welbeck to Arsenal, with the forward going on to sign 32 goals in 126 appearances for the Gunners before injuries ravaged his career.
Wenger, who currently works for FIFA, is also reported to be subject to a documentary about his career as well as his new autobiography.