Patrick Vieira had a hugely successful stint at Arsenal after joining the Gunners from AC Milan in 1996. The Frenchman would go on to win the Premier League and other trophies at the club. But would Vieira even have joined Arsenal if we weren’t in the European Union?
But if you asked the ex-Gunner John Hartson about the French midfielder’s diet, he wouldn’t be happy to go into detail. This is because the super-agent, Jonathan Barnett, has just revealed that the former Nice manager left Hartson disgusted after ordering salad and water when he first moved to Arsenal.
Barnett was speaking about the impact of Brexit on English teams with the clubs now unable to sign players freely from Europe.
He used the Vieira story to illustrate how things used to be when players from different European countries and cultures joined Premier League teams.
He even added that without Brexit, West Brom would have been able to sign a player that would save them from relegation.
“Brexit is the biggest threat to English football,” said Barnett as quoted by Star Sports.
“Look at Wolves, they’ve been so successful and yet would they get in now?
“There’s players who could have saved West Brom but they can’t get work permits. I truly believe European players have helped British players so much.
“I remember when Patrick Vieira came into Arsenal, I was sitting with John Hartson who was my client while Vieira was sitting with some people and he ordered a salad and water.
“I’m not going to say what John had… I said: ‘Look at him…’ John said: ‘I know it’s disgusting – I’ll have a word!’
“I’m telling you – the young British players are the best of my lifetime and that’s because they’ve been brought up and learned from the best. If you reduce the standard, you damage other players.”
We can only hope that the Government and the FA can agree on some fair way to get around the visa regulations for talented foreign players, but with Covid already causing movement between borders, could Brexit even make it worse?