Arsenal legend Ian Wright reveals he almost joined Chelsea before Arsene Wenger’s arrival

Ex-Arsenal striker Ian Wright
Wright went on to have a great career at Arsenal (Picture: Getty Images)

Arsenal hero Ian Wright has revealed he almost made the switch to rivals Chelsea after arguing ‘every day’ with former manager Bruce Rioch.

The ex-England striker moved to Highbury in 1991 to play under George Graham, but the successful Scottish manager was sacked in 1995 after nine years in charge.

The Gunners opted for a left-field replacement in former Bolton Wanderers boss Rioch, who got on the wrong side of their star striker by playing him on the left wing.

Wright handed in a transfer request, but Rioch was dismissed and replaced by Arsene Wenger at the beginning of the 1996-97 season, under whom he won the Premier League and FA Cup double the following season.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Wright said: ‘Yes [I could have joined Chelsea], under Glenn Hoddle. It was that year that I had with Bruce Rioch that was a real tough one.

‘I handed in a transfer request by the time it got to a serious point because I genuinely thought I was leaving. Arsenal don’t sack managers and obviously George Graham went.

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Arsenal's Ian Wright
Wright lifting the Premier League trophy in 1998 (Picture: Getty Images)

‘After Bruce Rioch came in, after the first year, we literally argued every day and I thought I should just leave, as there was no way Arsenal were going to get rid of him and something was going to happen between us.

‘So I put that transfer request in, they refused it, it all went up in the air and in the end I was in touch with Chelsea.

‘It would have been a big mistake for me to leave at that stage with everything that happened with me at Arsenal. I ended up winning the league, got the top goal-scorer in Arsenal’s history before, obviously, Thierry [Henry] broke it.

‘It wouldn’t have been a good way to leave. I know, down the years, many people have left football clubs because they haven’t been able to get on with the manager.

‘I have just got to give thanks to the likes of David Dein, and the Arsenal board, at the time, who realised that, for me, [appointing Rioch] was a mistake.

‘It wasn’t working out. I was very vocal in that and a lot of the other players were vocal when it suited them. I didn’t mind letting him know what I felt and in the end he went.’

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