Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said that were it not for the invitation of the Pope to referee a charity match on deadline day, the north London club would not have agreed a £16 million deal to bring him to the Emirates Stadium at the end of the transfer window, as reported by the Daily Star.
Welbeck’s move to Arsenal was confirmed in swift fashion on the final day of the window, with Wenger busy in Rome, refereeing a charity game that had been arranged by Pope Francis.
Had it not been for his absence, Wenger would have only looked for a season long loan deal for the former Manchester United striker, with the club intending to secure an option to buy him at the end of the season.
With Spurs also sniffing around Welbeck, there is no guarantee that Arsenal would have managed to secure the striker. Welbeck showed his talent on Monday by scoring two goals for the England national side.
Wenger said: “If I had not travelled that day, Welbeck would not be here. I’ll explain that a bit later.
“If I stayed at home, Welbeck would not be here today. That’s the truth.”
“Meeting the Pope was an experience I did not want to miss.
“I am a Catholic and it was an invitation I accepted a long time ago and on top of that it was a game for peace and multi-religion understanding.
“He is a great person to meet because he shows humility and is available to meet for everybody.
“He is a supporter of San Lorenzo in Argentina. He is a football fan. You cannot be born in Argentina and not be a football fan.”