Football Insights - Emmanuel Petit
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Football Insights - Emmanuel Petit

Emmanuel Petit has a football CV rivalled by very few. He won the World Cup with France in 1998 before enjoying spells at Arsenal, Barcelona and Chelsea.

As the Premier League draws to a close, the legendary midfielder gives his take on Chelsea’s horror season and the Gunners’ title collapse in an exclusive chat with Genting.

Petit also discusses the disgusting racist abuse suffered by Vinicius Jr, who Arsenal should sign this summer and how Pep Guardiola’s brilliant Manchester City team compare with Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal Invincibles.


Vinicius Jr unfortunately suffered racist abuse in La Liga, to the extent he has cast doubt on his future at Real Madrid. Is he someone you would like to see at Arsenal or Chelsea? 

If I was Vinicius I would not be coming to Arsenal now. He is playing for the biggest club in the world and for the past two years, he has been tremendous. I remember three years ago he was under so much criticism, even from his teammates. Now he plays with so much personality and is doing really well. 

I was shocked by what I saw when Real Madrid played Valencia over the weekend. Even some of the post match reaction I saw from La Liga and the body of governors had me asking: ‘what is wrong with you guys?’’ I can’t understand what is happening. This is not the first or last time it will happen, and Vinicius Jr isn’t the last person it will happen to. 

If he leaves Real Madrid because of this, it will be a mistake. The majority of people in Spain are not like that, it’s only a minority. Plus, it can happen anywhere in the world. When you leave Real Madrid, it is hard to find happiness somewhere else. 


Arsenal have been linked in reports with Ilkay Gundogan. Would you like to see that? 

I am a great fan of Ilkay Gundogan, but he does not have a long future ahead of him as a footballer. If I am Gundogan, I would not come to Arsenal. He is enjoying his football so much at City winning trophies. It is the same situation with Bernado Silva and PSG. I would tell them both to think twice about making a move.  

If it was for private reasons I can understand. Though life is nice and the city is beautiful in Paris, the sport is not up to par. At Manchester City, you will be playing with people who have a vision, who play proper football. You will also have serenity and good teammates on and off the pitch. In terms of Gundogan leaving for Arsenal, he will probably only be doing it for the money. 


Neymar has been linked with a move to the Premier League. Would you like to see him at Arsenal or Chelsea? 

I would love to see Neymar in the Premier League. Both he and Messi are under so much criticism at PSG and they both are getting frustrated at what people are saying in the media. They are both artists. Neymar has been below expectations in his fifth season and he has been injured for half the season.  

I have always been a fan of Neymar. I love the way he plays football but he needs teammates who understand his artistry. You can’t ask him to play the ball back or make continuous runs. You just need to give him a chance with the ball - just like Messi with Argentina at the World Cup.  

I have always thought Neymar should stay at PSG, but in the last couple of weeks I have changed my mind. On the radio, I always say: ‘Neymar if you are listening to this, leave the club!’ In the best interest of PSG, they should split from each other as his mind is not there anymore.  

Did you see what happened outside his house a couple of weeks ago? This is football we are talking about here, this is so over the top! I’m pretty sure he wants to leave and PSG will be happy if he goes as well. 


What club would Neymar suit best? 

I think Neymar will suit any big club. If he comes to Arsenal, I would love it and I think he will too. I think he will enjoy the technical football and the style of Arsenal. He would love to play with younger players as he is quite mature himself.  

He will also have revenge on his mind with everything that he has been going through at PSG, and the tears he shed at the World Cup. I think he will be happy to move to Arsenal if that is the case. He can play on the left and the right, and because of his ankle injuries he can be a player in rotation. 

If he goes to Man Utd, I will be very happy for them and the Premier League. They have Rashford and Sancho who can man both wings, but also have the skills to rotate so Neymar can easily fit into that cycle. 


Who would you most like to see Chelsea and Arsenal sign? 

In terms of who I would like Chelsea to sign, the answer would be nobody! They already signed enough players, they need to clean the dressing room first. For Arsenal, they need to bring five or six players to the spine of the team.  

They need players who will be able to rotate as the Champions League is coming up. It will be more difficult next season. I don’t want Arsenal to drop in the Premier League, I want them to stay at the top. I am very confident that they have a good vision and strategy for the transfer market. I would say they need to bring in midfielders, wingers, at least two centre-backs and one striker. 


Do any names stand out for Arsenal to sign? 

I have said for a long time that I am a big fan of Moises Caicedo. During the World Cup I said that top clubs would be interested in Brighton’s duo in midfield. Brighton are one of the best in the transfer market in England. The way they spent their money and chose their players was very good and they should be a benchmark to all of the teams in Europe. It is similar to Brentford’s style but it is very different. Arsenal have been talking about Declan Rice a lot.  

If they can get him, It will be a great move but I am a very big fan of Caicedo. This guy can play so many different positions for club and country. He is young and talented. He has a great heart and mentality. Mac Allister will also suit Arsenal as well with his vision and movement on the ball, as well as his passing. He is also scoring goals, which for me is very important for a player. I am happy that top clubs in England are looking at him. 

Caicedo is doing brilliant things at Brighton. Before Alexis Mac Allister won the World Cup, I said clubs should be interested in him and Caicedo together. 

Caicedo understands everything in the midfield, he has a great heart and mentality. Mac Allister would also suit Arsenal perfectly as well with his vision and passing. On top of that, he’s scoring goals too which is important for midfield players.


You mentioned Chelsea have too many players there. Which signing has disappointed you the most?

Raheem Sterling is the Chelsea signing that has disappointed me the most. I don’t want to be too harsh on him and it’s hard to point fingers too much at players because it’s been a mess for at least a year. 

Since Abramovich left the club there has been no serenity on and off the pitch. Since Todd Boehly has come in, he’s been splashing money on new players and fires two managers in a row. 

So I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for the players. But in the meantime, when you play for clubs like Chelsea there are big expectations and you have to raise your level mentally and physically. Some players have been very disappointing with the way they play and their attitude on the pitch sometimes. 

You have to have mental strength. I understand the difficulty of the situation, but this is not an excuse. At the top level you’re under pressure all the time, you have to play every single game like it’s the last of your life. I know it’s hard but they should understand that. 

For me Sterling stands out as the most disappointing. I’m a big fan of the player and person, but I have been disappointed with him.


Manchester City look odds on for the Treble. Are they better than Arsenal’s Invincibles?

I think this Manchester City team is better than Arsenal’s Invincibles. The Invincibles did something no one else did before in the Premier League, but playing for a Treble is something completely different and they have been doing that for ages now.  

I was at the Etihad on Wednesday, commentating for French TV and I said I’ve seen so many great players and teams under Pep Guardiola but this is probably the best team I’ve ever seen for City.  

The way they play, the way Guardiola has learned from his mistakes, the way he wanted to keep the same way of playing but has adapted has been amazing. Now it has changed completely and he’s adapted to the quality of his new players. The way they change positions with direct football is brilliant. 

For the last couple of years I was bored of watching City, the way they play was putting me to sleep. I was thinking, ‘just give me some emotions’. This season so far, I am so glad to watch the way they play, I’ve surprised myself to say I’m a big fan of what he is doing with the club.  

It was a dream to watch the game on Wednesday. This City team and the Arsenal Invincibles are two great teams, but it will probably be very difficult to say the Invincibles would beat them. 






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