Wenger's failed transfer gamble: Why Bischoff has no Arsenal regrets
The midfielder spent the 2008-09 campaign with the Gunners but left having made just one Premier League appearance in north London
Amaury Bischoff was described as a “gamble on talent” by Arsene Wenger when he signed for Arsenal in 2008.
Ultimately, it was a gamble that did not pay off, with the midfielder making just four appearances for the Gunners – but the 32-year-old still insists he would not change a thing about his time in London.
“It was an amazing time for me,” Bischoff told Goal during an exclusive interview. “The city, the club. It was amazing.
“I made a lot of friends and I played with very big players. I know I could have done better, but I look back at it as an amazing experience. There are no regrets, never.”
It’s been 11 years since Bischoff left the Emirates Stadium after just one season in England.
He went on to have stints with Academica and Aves in Portugal before signing for Preussen Munster in the third tier of German football in 2012.
The midfielder spent the next five years with Munster, a stay he ended when he moved to current club Bahlinger in 2017.
But it is his short spell at Arsenal that still fills Bischoff with pride, even if it only brought him one Premier League appearance.
“As a little kid it was a dream to play for Arsenal because I am French as well and a lot of big French players had played there,” he said.
“It was an amazing day when Wenger told me he wanted me.”
Bischoff joined in July 2008, shortly after leaving Werder Bremen having turned down the offer of a new contract from the Bundesliga outfit.
Injury issues had plagued his final months in Germany, with Wenger admitting the signing was somewhat of a risk.
“Amaury is a young, promising player who we have taken a gamble on because he has been out for a long time,” said the Frenchman.
“He has had two surgeries on his groin so it is a gamble on his talent.”
Bischoff, who was born in France but represented Portugal at Under-21s level, had been in talks with Wenger for months before he completed his move to north London.
They had met twice in Paris to discuss a potential deal, with the midfielder eventually joining on a free transfer once his contract with Bremen had expired.
“I knew I was a gamble because I had been injured for eight months,” he said. “But for me that was not a problem because I knew the quality I had when I was on the pitch.
“I just wanted to get back so I could show I had the quality to play at Arsenal.”
Bischoff added: “It was not easy at first. I was staying at the training ground Monday to Friday and then for the weekend I would go back to France, which was good for my head.
“During the week I was working with the personal trainer. It was very difficult but players like [Emmanuel] Adebayor, [Gael] Clichy and [Bacary] Sagna were very good to me. I knew Wenger was on my side as well and that was very important for me.
“I still felt like part of the squad. [William] Gallas, [Kolo] Toure, [Robin] van Persie, they were all amazing guys. They talked with me like I was a normal player, it didn’t matter if I was injured.
“They gave me good motivation to carry on which was very important because when you are injured, it’s difficult. You need your family and your team-mates to help you and my team-mates were amazing.”
Bischoff eventually made his debut when he came off the bench during a 3-0 win against Wigan in the Carling Cup in October.
He also featured against Burnley in the following round and made an appearance in the FA Cup as an Eduardo double helped Arsenal to a 4-0 success against Cardiff.
But he had to wait until the final month of the season to make his Premier League debut, replacing Theo Walcott during a 3-0 win at Portsmouth.
That proved to be his last appearance in an Arsenal shirt, with Bischoff leaving north London a month later at the end of his contract.
“It was the right decision for me to leave Arsenal,” he said. “I wanted to play every week at a good level, but at Arsenal it was difficult because in midfield there was Wilshere, Nasri, Fabregas, Rosicky, they were all big players in the world.
“So it was very difficult for me to get minutes. I spoke with Arsene and we thought it was OK for me to leave. I had no problem with that.
“My relationship with Wenger was amazing, he was like a friend and I am still in contact with him now. He was an amazing coach and man.”