Gael Clichy has claimed that Arsenal lost something special when Patrick Vieira departed the club in 2005.
The French midfielder captained the club for the famous Invincibles season of 2004, one of six major titles with the club during his nine-year spell at the club, and will go down in history amongst our best captains ever.
Vieira eventually quit the club to join Juventus in 2005 after a controversial campaign in which he had his famous tunnel bust-up with Manchester United’s Roy Keane, as well as being confronted about an incident with Gary Neville, but the decision to join Juventus may well have been regretted later on.
The Old Lady being demoted and punished for a supposed match-fixing scandal 12 months after Vieira’s arrival.
Clichy claims that Arsenal should also have regretted their decision to let Patrick go, due to the affect he had on those around him.
‘Patrick was someone who, when he was on the pitch in training, I felt pressure,’ Clichy told Arsenal FC’s official podcast.
‘Not because he was shouting at young players or because he was demanding too much, but just because of his charisma and the way he was.
‘He was the guy putting in tackles and training as hard as anybody else so as a young player you have two ways of seeing this.
‘Either you say, ‘Wow this guy is the captain of the club, has won this, won that, if he is training like this I cannot do less. I will not be better than him because quality is quality but in terms of commitment and hard work, I have to match that.’
‘Then you have those players who will think, “If this guy is behaving like this there’s no way I can catch him up so there’s no point for me to train”.
‘Unfortunately, I have seen players behave like this and have that attitude.
‘For me on my side I always thought, “If these guys are doing this, I cannot allow myself to do less”. Again, it is not about quality but it is about commitment in training.
‘I do feel that when Patrick left, we had great players coming in, but that space he had within the team, within the club, was perhaps too big to fill for any player.’
Who has been Arsenal’s most influential captain since PV left? Do Arteta, Mertesacker or Fabregas deserve a mention amongst the legends?