Arsenal legend Lauren claims he turned down Real Madrid in order to make the switch to the north London club, with Arsene Wenger playing a major role in his decision, as reported by Spanish publication AS (via Goal).
A member of the ‘Invincibles’ back in 2003/04, Lauren was a massive star and arguably among the best right-backs in the Premier League. He may have enjoyed a hugely successful spell at Arsenal, but the fact that he chose a move to Highbury over the Santiago Bernabeu shows just how much pull Arsenal and Arsene Wenger used to have.
“It was fairly informal,” Lauren said.
“I met up with David Dein and Arsene Wenger on the outskirts of London. They offered me a cup of tea and we talked about football.
“I took that as their way of trying to figure me out psychologically as they already knew what I was like on the pitch.
“[Juan] Onieva made me an offer to join Madrid but it was the encouragement I got from Wenger which convinced me that Arsenal was the place for me.”
While Wenger may have convinced the likes of Mesut Özil, Alexis Sanchez, and Petr Cech to join him at Arsenal in recent seasons, there’s no question that the London club don’t have the same appeal they once did. Trophies have been few and far between for the Frenchman over the last decade, and despite what appeared to be real improvement in the 2013/14 and 14/15 seasons, they have seemingly digressed during the current campaign.
During a season when most of the big teams in England have been massively underperforming, Arsenal looked to have a great chance of adding to their two consecutive FA Cups. A number of sub-par displays have seen them crash out of both cup competitions against what should have been easy opposition, and they look sure to lose the Premier League to either Leicester City or their north London rivals Tottenham.
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Arsenal are clearly still a big club, but few of the game’s biggest players would opt to join Wenger at the Emirates over a switch to Real Madrid. In fact, Arsenal may be lucky to keep hold of the stars they currently have come the end of the season.