Michael Carrick has revealed he came close to joining Pompey.
In his autobiography Michael Carrick: Between the Lines, which is being serialised by The Times, the former England international told how he thought he was moving to Fratton Park in the summer of 2004 – only for Arsenal to scupper the deal.
After spending the 2003-04 season in Division One with West Ham, Carrick was keen to return to the top flight.
The upcoming midfielder had attracted a number of potential suitors, with Everton, West Brom and Crystal Palace chasing his signature.
Harry Redknapp also wanted to sign Carrick to bolster his engine-room options, following the Blues’ 13th-place finish in their maiden Premier League campaign.
The Wallsend-born talent met with the Pompey boss and chief executive Peter Storrie at a hotel near Heathrow airport days before the 2004-05 campaign started.
It looked like Carrick was set to join the Blues, before he was approached by Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein, who asked him to meet with boss Arsene Wenger.
That put paid to the current Manchester United assistant coach’s move to PO4.
Yet Redknapp had no qualms about Carrick turning down Pompey for the Gunners.
Carrick said: ‘West Brom and Portsmouth came in for me in the summer of 2004 and Iain Dowie tried hard to get me to Crystal Palace.
‘I never spoke to any of them because none of it felt right. Everton were interested and I spoke to David Moyes on the phone, but that just faded away.
‘After a few weeks, Portsmouth came back in again. Portsmouth were a solid Premiership club.
‘Harry Redknapp was there, and so was the chief executive Peter Storrie, who I knew from West Ham.
‘I was well into the pre-season so, with time running out, I agreed to meet Harry.
‘“I’ll get my head round it, get in the Premiership, have a good year and then see whatever,” I told David Geiss, who I have been with my whole career and is more of a family friend than an agent.
‘We went to meet Harry and Peter at a hotel near Heathrow on August 6, 2004, a couple of days before the season started with the Community Shield.
‘On the way, David got a call from David Dein that really threw us. Dein was the main man at Arsenal and very close to Arsene Wenger.
‘There was nothing concrete, and we didn’t know the strength of their interest, but still, Arsenal!
‘It was just a call, sounding us out really, so we carried on, and spoke to Harry and Peter.
‘“Come down to Portsmouth tomorrow,” Harry said. “Have a medical”.
‘That seemed sorted, I was going to Pompey. Then, on the way home, we got another call. Arsenal again, asking us to meet Arsene.
‘As it happened we were driving past his home in north London, so we arranged to call in on the way. Within an hour I was sitting in the front room of Arsene Wenger’s house, pinching myself.
‘Could this really be happening? Arsenal! Could I really be on the verge of signing for the Invincibles who’d just gone through the season unbeaten?
‘My head was spinning. Arsenal were finishing either first or second in the Premiership.
‘I almost felt guilty over how calmly Harry took it. He knew the attraction of Arsenal.’
The emergence, however, of Cesc Fabregas meant Arsenal pulled out of the deal to sign Carrick.
He subsequently joined Tottenham Hotspur for £3.5m.
The midfielder would go on to win 34 England caps, as well as five Premier League titles and the Champions League at Manchester United.
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