Aaron Ramsey is undoubtedly an Arsenal legend having won three FA Cups – scoring the winner in both the 2014 and 2017 finals.
But things could have ended up so differently for the Wales skipper had it not been for legendary former manager Arsene Wenger.
Flash back to 2008 and Arsenal were in a battle with Premier League and Champions League winners Manchester United – only this time not on the pitch.
Both clubs – as well as Everton – were vying to sign Cardiff’s teenage starlet Ramsey, who played for the Championship side in their 2008 FA Cup final defeat against Portsmouth.
But it was believed at the time that United and Arsenal were ahead of the Toffees as they could offer the youngster Champions League football.
And the Red Devils seemingly won the race to sign the £5million-rated 17-year-old, as they gleefully announced they had reached an agreement with the Bluebirds.
A headline on their website read, ‘Ramsey fee agreed’, with their statement reading: “Manchester United is delighted to announce it has agreed terms with Cardiff City for the transfer of Aaron Ramsey to Old Trafford.”
But United conceded that other clubs were in the race and had been given permission to speak with the player.
And ultimately, Sir Alex Ferguson‘s side were left red-faced when he rejected a move to the champions and instead opted to join Arsenal.
It would have been easy for Ramsey to make the move to the Theatre of Dreams with his dad Kevin a boyhood United fan.
Had it not been for Wenger, Arsenal would have missed out on Ramsey, who scored 64 goals in 369 games before leaving for Juventus in 2019.
In an interview with Sky Sports in 2018, Ramsey revealed how the Frenchman pulled out all the stops in order to convince him to join Arsenal.
Wenger flew the player and his family out to Switzerland on a private jet, which helped to seal the deal.
Commenting on being flown out to watch Euro 2008, he said: “That’s why I felt more wanted by Arsenal and the boss.
“He went through all of that to try and get me to sign for this club, and as a 17-year-old flying on a private jet over to his hotel [for Euro 2008] to having lunch with him was quite surreal, but I think I made the right decision in the end.”
He added of his decision to reject United for Arsenal: “I went up there and saw the facilities and I also went to see Arsene Wenger.
“I just felt more wanted by Arsenal, and the boss’ plans for me seemed more appealing to me.
“And what he’s done for so many younger players as well and turned them into great players, I think that’s what was exciting for me and being a part of that.