Emmanuel Laurent “Manu” Petit was born 22 September 1970 and was one of the early classic signings by Arsène Wenger, who brought Petit from his earlier French club, Monaco.
Petit was born in Dieppe and was signed by Arsène Wenger at the age of 18 and soon became a regular player in the midfield. By 1996/7 he was captain of the side that won the French League.
He then moved to Arsenal for £2.5m, one of the early transfers by Arsène Wenger. At this stage Mr Wenger converted Petit into a defensive midfielder where he played alongside Patrick Vieira and (to put in my own point of view) this was the heart of the success that bought Arsenal the second double.
In 2000 there was disappointment for a number of Arsenal fans, including me, as both Petit and Overmars moved to Barcelona – as it turned out the first of many such moves from Arsenal. The fee for both players was quoted as €14m although on his own web site Overmars claimed that most of this was for him, it still meant that after three years, Arsenal managed to sell Petit on for a profit.
Not only was this the first major Arsenal-Barcelona transfer of the new era at Arsenal, it was the first that resulted in questions being asked about Barcelona’s transfer policy. In his biography of 2008, Petit stated categorically that the coach Llorenç Serra Ferrer didn’t actually know what position Petit played when he joined the team.
This is interesting when we compare it with the outstanding knowledge that Mr Wenger reveals if questioned on any significant player world-wide, whether he plays for Arsenal or not.
Here are the details of Petit’s years at Arsenal and in Barcelona.
While no one competed for Petit when he came to Arsenal, Mr Wenger’s “discovery” of the player had by 2000/1 alerted a lot of clubs to Petit’s ability and with matters not going well in Spain he was ready to move after one season – eventually choosing Chelsea, for £7.5m. He played in the 2001 cup final where Chelsea were beaten by Arsenal.
After injuries slowed his career he was released on a free in 2004 and finally retired on 20 January 2005.
Meanwhile he gained 63 caps for France, and scored in the 1998 World Cup Final.
Since leaving playing Petit has become a football analyst in France, and has on occasion been quoted criticising Wenger and Arsenal, although as always we never know what was actually said and in what context.
- 24 June 1905: Arsenal AGM report annual income for the rent of bars as £110 5s 0d
- 24 June 1949: Bryn Jones transferred to Norwich as player coach
- 24 June 1998: Petit and Vieira play in WC v Denmark. Petit scores winner.