Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has acknowledged that selling Ashley Cole to Chelsea was a blunder, implying the club should’ve done more to keep him.
Cole was an integral part of Wenger’s unbeaten ‘Invincibles’ Premier League-winning squad of the 2003-04 season. He helped the Gunners to two league titles, three FA Cups and four Community Shields in six seasons, going down in history as one of their most decorated players.
Unfortunately, the player and the club couldn’t agree on a contract extension, which eventually led to his departure to rivals Chelsea in 2006. Looking back, Wenger has admitted that it was a minuscule monetary “misunderstanding” that made him lose one of his best players.
When asked to name the one player he would have signed again, Wenger told beIN Sports (via Metro):
“Well, I would say personally, most of the time, the players gave us seven, eight, nine years and left after.
“The younger generation like [Cesc] Fabregas we lost early and would not have loved to lose him. The player I think we, internally, it was a mistake to lose was Ashley Cole.
“Because he was playing at nine, 10 years old for the club. I knew with Fabregas that taking him away from Barcelona, at some stage he’d want to go back to Barcelona. But Ashley Cole came out of the club. I think it was a misunderstanding over a few thousand pounds.
“At the time, we spoke about [Roman] Abramovich when he came into the game, Ashley Cole is one of the few players who developed even more and continued to develop when he left.”
The former England international was unhappy with the contract extension the Gunners were offering him and started looking elsewhere. In 2005, he had a meeting with then-Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho without Arsenal knowing, which led to penalties for all involved parties.
Capping off the saga, Cole finally joined the Blues for €7.4million with Willam Gallas coming the other way.
Cole spent eight seasons at Stamford Bridge, winning a Premier League, a Champions League, a Europa League, and four FA Cups amongst other honors.
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