Former Man City star had chance to sign for Arsenal

Former Belgium forward Emile Mpenza has revealed he turned down a transfer to Arsenal, on the advice of his father.

Emile, now 42, retired and working as a coach at the Belgian club Royal Antwerp, enjoyed a varied career, playing all around the continent for the likes of Manchester City, Schalke, Hamburg and Standard Liege.

It was in Belgium at the beginning of his professional career that he really shone, though, with his first campaign in the Jupiler Pro League seeing him score 12 goals and pick up five assists at Excelsior Mouscron.

And this, Mpenza says, earned him the attention of Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who wanted to add him to a forward line that already boasted Dennis Bergkamp, Nicolas Anelka and Ian Wright.

Mpenza, though, says he snubbed the move on the advice of his father, who felt he was not ready.

“That’s true. Before I switched from Mouscron to Standard Liège in 1997, Wenger came to our home,” Emile told SportBILD.

“He wanted to convince me to move to London because at the end of the nineties he built a super team with French stars like Thierry Henry.

“But my father didn’t want me to go to Arsenal at the time. He said I was too young to take this step and should keep playing with my brother.”

This is not the first time Mpenza has spoken about nearly signing for Arsenal, and it probably will not be the last either.

Instead, he joins the long list of players that Arsene nearly signed during his reign, which seems to grow year by year.

Considering that Mpenza’s best seasons after that initial season came back in Belgium and the Swiss Super League, perhaps things worked out the best for the Gunners.