The Juventus squad arrived yesterday for tonight's Champions League Quarter-Final first leg at Highbury. Three of their number are well known to Arsène Wenger - Lilian Thuram and Patrick Vieira have played for him while David Trezeguet arrived at Monaco just after he had left for Japan.
Here's what Wenger had to say on each.
Patrick Vieira. Bought by Wenger from Milan to Arsenal on August 14, 1996. Sold to Juventus July 15, 2005. 439 games appearances under Wenger. Wenger says: "Patrick will be highly motivated for the Champions League above all the personal motivation. There is a Semi-Final place at stake. He had a superb offer from Juventus for a five-year contract. Patrick had only two years to go with us and we were not in a position at that time to extend his contract.
"Can you refuse a guy who has played for nine years for you to have an opportunity to take a five-year contract? I didn't want to do that and then tell him at 31 or 32 maybe we could not extend it to the same level. I did not talk specifically about Patrick in that interview in L'Equipe [quoted in the English press last week]. I spoke in general terms that it is always hard for a player to accept he is finished because he will have fought for you for so long. It was not related to Patrick. He is 29, I was talking about players who were 32."
Lilian Thuram played six seasons for Monaco under Wenger between season 1990/91 and 1995/96, featuring in over 150 League games. He spent four years at Parma before moving to Juventus in 2001.
Wenger says: "Lilian Thuram is the rock at the heart of their defence. He is a very, very strong boy. He is highly focused and will be one who never gives up. He had the typical mentality to play in England. I tried to buy him many times but he was always too expensive. I think he wanted to come to England at one stage."
David Trezeguet was born in France but grew up in Argentina. He first played for Platense in South America before heading for Monaco in July 1999. Wenger had left the French club in the previous autumn. He forged a formidable partnership with Thierry Henry before the latter left for Juventus in 1999. Trezeguet followed suit in 2001.
Wenger says: "Trezeguet is a snake - he is a bit quiet and
then suddenly he kills you. He is a guy who comes alive in the box.
He does not upset you for half an hour but once you give him the
chance, he will just kill you. Trezeguet is that type of snake - he
is a cobra. He has a great intelligence in the box and a great
sense of anticipation. He is right and left-footed and what is very
dangerous with him is that he is very good in the air."
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