Super Eagles defender Oluwasemilogo Ajayi has revealed he turned down advances from Crystal Palace to sign for Arsenal in 2013.
The 26-year-old began his career in Charlton Athletics academy, but talent attracted Crystal Palace after failing to get a deal with Brentford and Norwich City.
Ajayi disclosed in an Instagram session that he almost joined the Eagles after a successful trial, but he was forced to reject their offer.
Ajayi later proceeds to Arsenal for another trial, where he finally landed a three deal year after another two-week trial.
“I went on another trial at Crystal Palace After two weeks, Palace offered me a deal but it was a bad deal, it wasn’t a good deal and my agent was telling me am I not going to sign that and the manager said I’m not going to get anything else.
“The next day my agent told me he had been on the phone with Arsenal and they wanted me to come in for a trial.
“I told the Crystal Palace under 23’s manager at the time that it was my last day and going elsewhere, Arsenal and he couldn’t believe it, he told me they could offer me a better deal and I should tell my agent to ring him.
“I went on trial to Arsenal, trained for a week, played my first game against Blackburn under 23’s and scored. Played another game at home against West Brom, played one of the best games in my career and from there I was offered a two-year deal.” He said.
Ajayi spent two years with the Gunners but did not make a first-team appearance, with the defender an unused substitute in the Premier League and League Cup on four separate occasions in the 2014-15 season.
The West Bromwich Albion defender reveals he was frustrated with his lack of first-team opportunities at the club but was keen to extend his contract with the club in order to continue his development.
However Arsene Wenger’s decision to sign another center back ( Gabriel Paulista) propelled him to seek a move elsewhere.
“There were only two proper center backs at the time, just Laurent Koscielny and Mertesacker but we had Monreal and Bacary Sagna who would fill in at center back sometimes, so even if I was third choice center back I was more like the fifth choice.
“I remember there was an injury crisis at one time, everyone was injured, and I was getting on the bench in the Premier League and I was thinking I was getting a chance and another injury happened and he put Debuchy center back ahead of me.
“I just carried on working and we were talking about extending my contract for another year or two years because I have been doing well but in January they signed a center back.
“I was 21 yet to make my professional debut and another center-back ahead of me so maybe I need to leave. I spoke to the boss Wenger, ‘what’s going on, I was the third choice now, I’m down the pecking order and I’m at an age where I want to play and I feel like I’m ready to play’.
“Wenger said if I can find another club that wants to take me and I’m happy to go, he’d be happy to let me leave.”
He later joined Cardiff City on loan in March 2015, before joining the Bluebirds on a two-year deal following the end of his contract with Arsenal.