Leicester midfielder Dennis Praet has revealed that he turned down the opportunity to move to Arsenal when he was a teenager.
The ex-Anderlecht star was shown around the Gunners’ training facilities when he was still playing with Genk as a youth but backed out of making a move, instead preferring to stay closer to home.
“I had three or four really good options,” Praet told the Guardian. “We went to visit Arsenal, Lille, Ajax and Anderlecht. Arsenal would have been a really nice step and I could earn a lot more money there than in Anderlecht, but at that moment my education was not finished and that was really important for me – there was no insurance that I would become a good football player.”
He has since gone on to be a roaring success and this summer completed a move to the Foxes from Serie A side Sampdoria, though he has revealed it almost never came to fruition.
Indeed, it was such a near thing that he did not even have his own boots when he travelled to England.
“It was a really close call because it was deadline day,” he said. “I arrived at the training ground but there were some small issues with the contract and I think it was only one hour before the deadline that everything was figured out, so I signed just in time.
“But I arrived here with the thought that if I sign, I could go back to get my stuff I needed. But the gaffer really wanted me to stay for the first game. I had no boots, so I did two training sessions and the first game with somebody else’s. I don’t even know whose they were.”
Praet’s research for the move was equally unusual – as it was conducted on the Sampdoria team coach.
“We were driving to a friendly game and I watched the second half of Leicester v Atalanta,” he said. “Was really surprised by the way Leicester were playing – with a really high press, really nice football, a lot of chances. At that moment I was sold.”
The Foxes suffered a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United last weekend but will aim to bounce back against Tottenham on Saturday, with the 25-year-old seeking to make his third appearance for his new side.