FORMER Juventus centre-back Giorgio Chiellini has lifted the lid on his failed move to Arsenal in 2001 and says he was a "fool" to reject the club.
The ex-Italy international claims the Gunners offered him a huge salary when he was just 16, but felt it would be a betrayal to leave Livorno.
Arsene Wenger was keen to bring the defender to North London, but Chiellini has revealed he was too loyal to Livorno, a decision he now regrets.
The nine-time Serie A champion has stated that he was offered a whopping 200million Italian Lira-a-year by Arsenal, which was roughly around £66,000-per-year.
Speaking to So Foot via Goal in February 2021 about his failed move, the 38-year-old said: "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.
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"I didn't feel ready. If I had accepted, it would have given the impression of betraying Livorno."
Chiellini would leave the following year for Roma, before linking up with Juventus 15 years ago.
He received 117 caps for Italy before retiring from international football earlier this year.
The centre-back then also bidded farewell to Juve in 2022, as he joined Los Angeles FC.
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Chiellini could have ended up at Arsenal later in his career after Robin van Persie revealed he urged Wenger to sign him, however his plea was ignored.
On the Effe Relativeren Podcast last year, the ex-Gunners skipper said: "At a given moment I felt called upon to say what Arsenal could do better in order to win the league.
"I felt we lacked a winning mentality, and asked Arsene Wenger to sign Giorgio Chiellini.
"I have played against him a few times, and he is a genuine winner. You could see that when he played against Holland a few weeks ago.
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"He is 36-years-old, but he'll dish out nine elbows every game with a smile on his face. He'll keep smiling and never get a yellow card.
"You need those types of winners and killers in your side. I felt we should get him."
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