With Cesc Fabregas recently admitting it would be his dream to play for Barcelona, fueling more exit talks, Arsenal Column looks at the Gunners who have left in recent seasons and whether it has been for the best of their career.
The players who have left the club can be categorized into different groups, depending on their reasons for leaving the club. The most recent big name departures, Alexander Hleb and Mathieu Flamini left the club to further their careers and while it is too early to judge, the pair join the list which features a group of mixed degree of success.
– Emmanuel Petit (Barcelona £7m, Chelsea £7.5m)
– Marc Overmars (Barcelona £25m, Go Ahead Eagles)
– Nicolas Anelka (Real Madrid £22.3m, Paris £20m, Liverpool loan, Man City £13m, Fernebahce £7m, Bolton £8m, Chelsea £15m)-Honours: Champions League, Turkish Premier Super League, UEFA Intertoto Cup
– Patrick Vieira (Juventus £13.7m, Inter Milan £9m) –Honours: Serie A (2), Italian Super Cup (2)
– Thierry Henry (Barcelona £15m)
– Edu (Valencia free)
– Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Barcelona part exchange (Fabregas), Feyenoord Clause)-Honours: La Liga, Champions League
– Jose Antonio Reyes (Real Madrid loan, Athletico Madrid £9m, Benfica loan)- La Liga
– Ashley Cole (Chelsea £5m p/ex Gallas)
– Alexander Hleb (Barcelona £13.7m, Mathieu Flamini (AC Milan free)
Ashley Cole and Anelka have ended up at Chelsea where they have challenged stronger than Arsenal, Van Bronckhorst became a key player to Barca’s success and Vieira has won two Serie A titles though his impact has been hampered due to injuries. Henry was Barcelona’s top scorer while playing on the wing last season while Reyes has dramatically fallen out of form.
– The next batch of players were usually let go by Wenger usually at the end of their contract or to give younger players the chance. Among those Campbell and Kanu have had some of the best success winning the FA Cup with Portsmouth while Pires has been a vital part of the Villarreal team who came second in La Liga though has been affected by injuries. Sylvain Wiltord won the French Championship with Lyon 3 times while the youngest of the lot, Ljungberg has just been released by West Ham also because of injuries.
- Ray Parlour
- Lauren (Portsmouth)
- Robert Pires (Villarreal)
- Kanu (Portsmouth)
- Jens Lehmann (Stuttgart)
- Freddie Ljungberg (West Ham)
- Sylvain Wiltord (Lyon, Rennes)
- Sol Campbell (Portsmouth)
- Gilberto (Panathaniakos)
The second group would be classed as those who struggled to command a place the first team and/or were too impatient (mainly youngsters) therefore looking elsewhere.
- David Bentley (Norwich loan, Blackburn £4.5m, Tottenham £17m)
- Jermaine Pennant (Watford loan, Birmingham loan, Liverpool £6.7m)
- Matthew Upson (Birmingham £3m, West Ham £6m)
- Lassana Diarra (Portsmouth £5.5m)
- Jeremie Aliadiere (Middlesbrough £2m)
- Pascal Cygan (Villarreal)
- Francis Jeffers,
- Fabrice Muamba (Birmingham, Bolton)
- Moritz Volz (QPR)
- Luis Boa Morte (Fulham, West Ham)
- Richard Wright (Everton)
- Stuart Taylor (Aston Villa)
- Sebastian Larsson (Birmingham)
- Alex Manninger (Juventus)
- Quincy Owusu Abeyie (Birmingham)
- Stephen Hughes (Coventry)
- Igors Stepanovs (Grasshoppers)
Other youngsters sold: Steve Sidwell, Graham Stack, Anthony Stokes
The players who have left the Gunners have enduredd mixed fortunes and in the most part Arsene Wenger has been right to let them go. However his recent departures have been younger and in Hleb’s and Flamini’s case still to offer their most to the club.
If Fabregas leaves he would have to battle with similar players in Xavi and Iniesta, not unlike the situation in Spain but because of his quicker style has the ability to force himself in to the team. He has to adapt himself but Gunner’s fans will be hoping he stays at Arsenal for many years.