‘He wanted me’ – Spurs legend reveals he spoke to Wenger about Arsenal interest

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Jermain Defoe has revealed Arsene Wenger tried to sign him for Arsenal before he joined Tottenham from West Ham. 

Defoe secured a switch across London to Spurs in 2004 after requesting to leave the Hammers (Independent), who had become embroiled in a Premier League relegation dogfight.

The then 21-year-old cost around £7 million and became a hit at White Hart Lane with a strong knack for scoring goals.

But Defoe has since admitted things could have been very different had he signed for one of the other interested parties keen on acquiring his signature at the time. 

The former England striker revealed the likes of Leeds and Newcastle were tracking his progress, as well as Tottenham’s bitter rivals Arsenal. 

And Defoe has now shared that he held a conversation with then Gunners manager Wenger before sealing a move to the white side of north London. 

He told the Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE podcast: “I remember at the time [in 2004], I got a call off Leeds and Newcastle. 

“I remember speaking to Arsene Wenger. He wanted me and [West Ham teammate] Michael Carrick [at Arsenal]. But then Tottenham came in.

“[Spurs manager] David Pleat was like, ‘I want this kid’ and that was it. It happened so quickly.”

Defoe scored more than 140 goals in over 360 appearances across three separate stints at Tottenham, becoming the club’s sixth-highest goalscorer (Transfermarkt). 

Spurs Web Opinion 

It would have been gutting to see Defoe go to Arsenal instead of Spurs as he became one of the deadliest finishers in English football. 

He probably could have been more prolific, but his ability was unquestioned and that has been demonstrated by his name being among some great forwards in Spurs history. 

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