The offer, made in 2001, would have seen him earn a substantial salary, but his loyalty to Livorno caused him to reject it.
Now reflecting on that decision, Chiellini has expressed regret.
- Former Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini admits he was a “fool” to reject an offer from Arsenal in 2001, when he was 16, due to his loyalty to Livorno.
- The £66,000-per-year offer was substantial at the time, and Arsene Wenger was keen on bringing the defender to North London.
- Later in his career, ex-Arsenal skipper Robin van Persie urged Wenger to sign Chiellini for the club, but the plea was ignored.
A missed opportunity
The youngster was offered a £66,000-per-year deal by the club, but chose to remain loyal to his then club Livorno.
The Arsenal offer came when Chiellini was only 16 years old, and former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was keen to bring the budding defender to North London.
The 200 million Italian Lira-a-year deal was substantial for the time, but Chiellini felt that leaving Livorno would be seen as a betrayal.
Speaking to So Foot via Goal, Chiellini shed light on the inner turmoil that led to his decision: “In hindsight, I was a fool to decline that offer. I was 16, I played in Serie C, I got a huge offer for just under 200 million lira-a-season. I didn’t feel ready. If I had accepted, it would have given the impression of betraying Livorno.”
The path not taken
Chiellini would leave Livorno the following year for Roma, before joining Juventus 15 years ago.
His illustrious career includes 117 caps for Italy before retiring from international football last year, and he recently joined Los Angeles FC.
Chiellini kills Tottenham
Giorgio Chiellini it’s the history of the Tottenham pic.twitter.com/ji5wePCofC
— reaction memes @VideoReacts (@VideoReacts) March 26, 2023
The story of Chiellini’s near-move to Arsenal serves as a fascinating insight into the decisions that shape a footballer’s career. Loyalty, readiness, and perceived betrayal all played a part in Chiellini’s choice to reject the offer, and it’s a decision he now looks back on with regret. Arsenal’s failure to secure the defender, not once but twice, adds another layer to the club’s history of ‘what could have been’.