“It should have been here.” – Arsene Wenger
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has revealed that allowing Ashley Cole to make the switch across London to rivals Chelsea is one of the biggest regrets of his career.
Cole was part of the Invincibles side that went unbeaten in the Premier League throughout the 2003-04 season. However, just two years later he found himself itching for a move to Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, who were offering him £90,000 a week, compared to the mere £55,000 a week that Arsenal were offering – a problem that Arsenal fans have had to endure regularly over the past decade, due to financial restrictions brought on by the building of the Emirates Stadium.
After threats of legal action, Mourinho labelling Wenger a ‘voyeur’ and Cole being left out of a team photo, he eventually completed his switch to the Blues, who sent William Gallas in the opposite direction.
Cole went on to add another Premier League trophy to the two he had already won at Arsenal, as well as four FA Cups, the League Cup, the Champions League and the Europa League. Cole has now left Chelsea after his contract expired this summer, opting to move to the Serie A with Roma. Despite appearing in some awkward pictures early on, Cole appears to be settling in at the club and his age certainly doesn’t appear to be slowing him down. Roma currently sit in second place in the Serie A table, just three points behind current leaders, Juventus.
However, Wenger has admitted that he wishes Cole never left the Gunners and that it all came down to a misunderstanding between the player’s agent and the club.
Wenger admitted, ” [It was] a regret of my career. He left on a misunderstanding between his agent and the club.
“The rest of his career has shown how big a player he is. It should have been here.”
Arsenal have suffered a torrid few years, failing to win a trophy following Cole’s departure up until last season, when they claimed the FA Cup with a 3-2 extra-time win over Hull City, before beating Premier League champions Manchester City 3-0 in the Community Shield.
Arsenal’s financial firepower is on the up and they have brought in World Cup stars Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in recent transfer windows. Arsenal haven’t had a great start to the season, winning just two of their opening seven games. They currently sit in eighth place.
Read Wenger’s opinion of his Invincibles side in Amy Lawrence’s new book, ‘Invincible’.