How Arsenal beat Real Madrid to sign one of the invincibles

Lauren is one of Arsenal’s heroes of the 2003/2004 season when the Gunners played the entire Premier League season unbeaten while winning the title along the way.

However, the Cameronian could have joined Real Madrid instead because he had held talks with the Spaniards over a move before he eventually joined Arsenal.

He has now revealed why he snubbed a move to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to join Arsenal, even though he knew that the Spaniards were a bigger team.

He claimed that he met with the La Liga giant’s representative and the negotiation seemed all about them and what they wanted.

He left the meeting unsatisfied, and he headed straight to London to meet with Arsenal.

The Arsenal meeting was to take place at David Dein’s house with Arsene Wenger present and he claimed that the Gunners had a better attitude and offered him better terms which made him decide to join them instead.

‘We met [Juan] Onieva [Real Madrid’s vice-president], but we didn’t reach an agreement, so we got a flight, flew to London, landed, went straight to David Dein’s house. And by the time we left, my mind was made,’ Lauren told The Guardian.

‘I didn’t feel any sadness not to be going to Madrid, The way Madrid negotiated back then was way off what it should be. It was like you had to do what they said. “This is how it is, full stop. Because we’re Real Madrid.” 

‘And when another club comes along with another attitude, however much you liked Madrid, you go. You join the people who treat you best.

‘Madrid’s attitude was: “If you like it, great. If not, see you.” So, I said: “OK, very good, I’m off to London.” I don’t think they expected it. 

‘Arsenal offered a better contract and better opportunities for a young player, light years from Madrid’s offer. It was very clear from the start, in the way Dein and Wenger acted. 

‘It wasn’t: “Come to the club [offices].” No, it was: “Come to my home, with my family. Join us.” In negotiations normally everyone sits there all serious, in suit and tie, but they were totally different.

‘Dein’s treatment man-to-man was fantastic. And Wenger’s sitting there with that human warmth, that approachability. It immediately feels different. 

‘Wenger didn’t say much. He listened. He knew about the football; he knew perfectly what you could do. He wanted to see the person: the character, whether you could handle it. They saw I was mature, I could take that step.

This from Lauren just underlines, even more, the impact that Dein had at the club, it is no coincidence there has been a gradual decline since the great man left.

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