Sol Campbell almost turned down Arsenal for European giants 4 years ago

Sol Campbell almost turned down Arsenal for European giants

The number of England international footballers to play overseas in the last 20 years is tiny compared to most major European footballing nations.

Joe Hart is currently on loan at Torino, while Owen Hargreaves and Eric Dier began their respective careers in Germany and Portugal respectively, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

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But things might have been different if we'd had an England regular setting the trend at the start of the 21st century - and that very nearly happened when Sol Campbell left Tottenham Hotspur in 2001.

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Campbell ultimately joined Arsenal in an acrimonious free transfer, but the former Gunners defender has admitted the move was almost hijacked by Barcelona.

"Barcelona came in around my move to Tottenham and Arsenal," Campbell told Sky Sports, as transcribed by Metro.

The 42-year old admitted he was tempted by the move, but noted that it came late in the day.

Had he opted for La Liga rather than North London, he could have found himself playing with the likes of Rivaldo, Luis Enrique and a young Xavi, potentially providing plenty of encouragement for other English players to try their hand overseas.

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Instead, Barcelona brought in two other centre-backs that summer: Swedish international Patrik Andersson and Frenchman Philippe Christanval, who later went on to play Premier League football for Fulham.