Arsene Wenger has revealed that if he had not travelled to Rome on transfer deadline day, Arsenal would not have been able to sign Danny Welbeck from Manchester United.
Wenger drew severe criticism from several quarters when it was revealed that he was travelling to Rome on deadline day to officiate a charity football match, instead of staying at the club's headquarters and be directly involved in any last-minute signings, which would improve the squad.
However, Arsenal pulled off a surprise, managing to land Welbeck late into the day (after getting an extension to the deadline, in fact) for a fee around £16m, following United's capture of Radamel Falcao from Monaco on a season-long loan deal.
"If I had stayed at home and not travelled that day, Welbeck would not be here today. I will tell you that story one day but that's the truth," Wenger stated.
"We are in 2014 and you can always be in touch with everybody even when you travel. The advantage of that day was I had to get up at 6 o'clock in the morning and I was available the whole day," Daily Mail quoted the Frenchman.
Welbeck was with the United youth set up since 2001. Born and brought up in Manchester, he was always a fan favourite, and emerged as a poster boy of the academy, featuring in several programmes with the first team players even from a very young age.
The forward broke through to the club's first team during the 2011-12 season, after a successful loan spell at Sunderland, and has been highly rated by Sir Alex Ferguson, though he fell down the pecking order under his successors David Moyes and Louis van Gaal.
And when asked if he thought Ferguson would have sanctioned the sale of Welbeck, Wenger pointed out: "You should ask him. I met him by coincidence on Tuesday and Wednesday and I would like to keep that conversation to myself!"
"We sold Robin Van Persie to Manchester United so that's a reciprocity that happened there."
Wenger also confirmed that his priority was to land Welbeck on a season-long loan with an option to buy next summer. But that position changed when United was close to landing Falcao and insisted on a permanent sale, with a few other clubs, understood to be Tottenham and Sunderland, entering discussions to sign the England international.
"With an option to buy, yes. When they bought Falcao they had to let somebody go and I was not aware at the start when I heard that he (Welbeck) could be available. It was quick because it was on the last day of the transfer window and I had no hesitation to do it."
Welbeck has now joined Arsenal, after scoring both goals for England in a 2-0 win over Switzerland in Basel at the weekend, in the Three Lions' 2016 European Championship qualifying campaign opener.
Wenger expressed his delight to have landed the 23-year-old and is confident the player can go on to have a great future in north London. With Olivier Giroud sidelined till the turn of the year with an ankle injury, Welbeck is expected to lead the line for Arsenal more often than not - a role his new manager trusts him with.
"He arrived on Wednesday and he's happy and confident of course because he scored two goals for England in a very important game and that can only boost his confidence. Welbeck is young, strong and a great finisher. His best position is through the middle. He can improve here.
"At Manchester United, where you had many big stars, and he is a player who is very versatile, he had to make room sometimes for players to play through the middle. But if you analyse in an objective way his qualities, I think he has the perfect style to play through the middle."