Arsenal’s rollercoaster season, which has seen exciting new signings, sad departures, crushing defeats and glorious victories, could have more ups and downs in store. Following the arrival of recruitment guru Sven Mislintat, there has been more uncertainty hanging over the Arsenal squad than at any time in their recent history.
The arrival of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January was balanced by the departure of a host of familiar faces, and more could be on the way out this summer. According to reports in the UK media, full-back Héctor Bellerín and midfielder
Aaron Ramsey are both the subject of interest from Manchester United, while Chelsea are also reportedly keen to bring the Welsh star to Stamford Bridge.
However, while Mislintat’s expertise in spotting talent is undoubted, there are risks in allowing senior players to leave. It is true that Bellerín’s performances this season have fallen short of the expected standard, but he remains a huge talent, and the Gunners would certainly miss Ramsey’s tireless contribution in midfield. Arsenal are currently rated as sixth favourites to win the Premier League with online bookmakers, and for a club with title ambitions, player retention is surely as important as recruitment.
The pain of losing a first-team star is exacerbated when they join a Premier League rival, and Arsenal fans know this feeling all too well. Here are just a few of the top Arsenal players who have ended up plying their trade with a domestic rival.
After graduating from the Gunners academy, Cole was destined to become the club captain after playing a leading role in winning two league titles and three FA Cups. However, his anger at being offered a £55,000 per week contract led to him signing for Chelsea in 2006. He went on to win multiple trophies with the Blues, but Arsenal fans have still not forgiven him.
Adebayor’s four seasons at Arsenal counted for nothing when he joined Manchester City in 2009 and appeared to delight in antagonising Arsenal fans. In a game at the Etihad, he was accused of stamping on Robin van Persie, and then ran the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of the visiting fans when he scored. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Togo striker went on to sign for Tottenham.
Robin van Persie
In his eight seasons with Arsenal, Van Persie scored 132 goals in 277 appearances and was a firm favourite of Gunners fans; so to see him join Manchester United in 2012 was a bitter pill to swallow. Worse still, Van Persie would go on to play a starring role in United’s 2012-13 league title success, finding the net 26 times in 30 appearances.
Like Adebayor, Touré made his name at Arsenal, playing over 300 games for the club. He played a major role in the 2003-04 unbeaten season, but in 2009, he quit the club in search of trophies and joined Manchester City. After leaving a hole in the Gunners backline, Touré failed to establish a regular first-team place at City, though he did pick up another Premier League winner’s medal in 2012.
After a torrid campaign, a spring revival has given Arsenal fans some optimism, and it is likely that the squad will look very different by the start of next season. However, as Gunners fans know all too well, player retention is an important consideration, and the club should think very carefully before allowing the likes of Bellerín and Ramsey to join one of their rivals.