Red hot: Walcott says the team's mentality is stronger than he has ever known

By London correspondent Tony Hughes

Joe Mourinho tried to sign Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal in the summer of 2015, according to a new book about the Manchester United manager.

Jose Mourinho: Up Close and Personal claims that the Portugese wanted one of the two England internationals in part-exchange for Petr Cech when Arsenal were in talks to land the goalkeeper from Chelsea 14 months ago.

It is said that former Blues manager Mourinho wanted to keep the Czech international but was overruled by the owner Roman Abramovich.

Cech eventually completed an £11million transfer from Stamford Bridge after Mourinho had installed Thibaut Courtois as the Chelsea No1 the previous season.

It meant Arsene Wenger was able to strengthen the Arsenal squad with a proven Premier League star, much to the disgust of his long-time dugout rival Mourinho.

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“He took his frustration out on Wenger, whom he blamed for unsettling Cech, and immediately hatched a plan to try to turn a straightforward cash sale into a swap deal in a bid to prise away, or at the very least unsettle, a couple of young Arsenal stars in retaliation,” wrote author Rob Beasley in Up Close and Personal, as cited by the Daily Mail.

“He told me in an email: ‘Mister Wenger wants Cech and he thinks about money…he is wrong!!! What I want is to f*** him…Want Cech? OK, I want (Theo) Walcott or (Alex) Oxlade-Chamberlain!!! Want a top goalkeeper? OK, I want a young player, s*** with you but I can make him top.’

“The inference was clear. He could make Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott top, top stars and succeed where Wenger had failed.

“On this occasion the Frenchman had the last laugh for once, landing Cech without sacrificing any of his players and then seeing Mourinho sacked by Christmas 2015.”

Walcott is set to start for Arsenal in their Premier League showdown against Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on Saturday, while Oxlade-Chamberlain is likely to be on the substitute’s bench.

In other Arsenal transfer news, Wenger has gone public with criticism of one of the club’s summer signings.