The visit to Arsenal as Crystal Palace manager by the captain of the Invincibles is a reminder he was never replaced

In the summer of 2009, Arsène Wenger found himself wrestling with temptation. Arsenal had not acquired anyone who could patrol a midfield quite like Patrick Vieira in the four years since his departure, and they were still struggling for leaders in a dressing room high on talent but short on direction. Who better to solve at least one of those problems, perhaps, than the former captain himself? Vieira was by then a declining force at Internazionale and angling for a return to London. “There is a football decision and there is the psychological impact of a player of that stature coming in,” Wenger mused. “We don’t rule it out and we don’t say we will do it.”

Ultimately Wenger did not succumb, admitting later that it had been a “real tough call”, and Vieira stayed at Inter for another year. Arsenal got their shot of nostalgia through Sol Campbell’s brief return a few months later, but spent the next decade grasping for a healthier relationship with the past.

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