Arsenal fans will tell you that over the past decade we have seen numerous players switch the Emirates for pastures new, perhaps a few of which have been a little closer to home than a lot of fans would’ve liked. But should we really consider them to be ‘snakes’, as they are often referred, when in reality, most have gone on to win some of the biggest trophies in European football.
Arsenal could probably make an entire starting eleven of players who have ‘turned their back on Arsenal’ to go join one of our rivals. Van Persie’s move to United may arguably be one of the biggest, whilst Ashley Cole caused quite a stir back in 2006. Fabregas also arguably hurt the Gunners twice in consecutive moves to Barcelona and then Chelsea. This is not to forget the rather attractive prospect that players see at Manchester City, with the likes of Adebayor, Clichy, Toure, Sagna and Nasri all leaving the Gunners for a move up north.
Many will argue that finances played a large part in the moves and that players are motivated by money. For Ashley Cole’s move to Chelsea (which was solely based upon his contractual demands) and some of the stars that went to City, I have no doubt that money played its part. But I think they also recognised that their chances of success with Arsenal weren’t looking any brighter and that a move to another club may be the breath of fresh air that they need.
Over the past decade Arsenal have dramatically fallen in terms of success, there’s no denying it. From the unbeatables, to what currently seems as the ‘un-winn-ables’, we’ve seen plenty of players line up under Arsene Wenger, many of which have no silverware to their name as a result of their Arsenal career. For the players that do, it’s one or two FA Cup’s, which albeit is still a good achievement, it is not the pinnacle of football that all players will desire.
Ashley Cole was recently asked about whether he regretted leaving the Gunners, and the Englishman said: “No. I had a great time there, I missed the old players that were there but I moved on and won every trophy I could. I wouldn’t look back and say I regretted it, no.”
I’m sure that I’m going to get a few disagreeing in the comments section, but would it be unreasonable to suggest that perhaps the likes of RVP, Fabregas, and the City men mostly, in hindsight, made the correct decision to leave Arsenal for a rival. Admittedly they could’ve departed in a more respectful fashion and perhaps not chosen a club with a rivalry to the Arsenal heart; however do players really have the loyalty to Arsenal that us fans do? Of course not, they may be fans of the club because they play for the Gunners, but they don’t necessarily have the same passions and desires for the Red and White as we do. Therefore when a better job offer comes along elsewhere, with increased changes of success and with it and increased wage, realistically with no loyalties to the club, I don’t think they really care too much about whether the fans aren’t going to be happy. The players have a desire to win the biggest, most lucrative trophies in football, not stay at the same club for their entire career, trying to win things under a manager that can only claim that there is ambition.
You only get one shot at a professional career and although you’re likely to upset thousands of fans at the time, in 10-20 years time, looking back on the fact that they achieved the biggest rewards of playing the game professional, do you really think we can still blame them for seeking that desire elsewhere?