Arsene Wenger has claimed that ‘it was a mistake’ to allow Ashley Cole to leave Arsenal and join Chelsea back in 2006, blaming the club’s failings for his departure.
The left-back is possibly the best ever left-back to grace the Premier League, and was a huge credit to our academy over the years. Ashley was a key member of our famous Invincibles side of 2004 before being the subject of a ‘tapping up’ scandal by Chelsea, who were believed to have courted our player without our permission.
Both the Blues and the player were fined in 2005, before eventually being allowed to make the move to West London a year later for a measly £5 Million fee.
Arsene Wenger has now admitted that he fears a misunderstanding led to the mistake of allowing Cole to quit the club.
‘Well, I would say personally, most of the time, the players gave us seven, eight, nine years and left after,” Wenger told BeinSports (via the Metro).
‘The younger generation like [Cesc] Fabregas we lost early and would not have loved to lose him.
‘The player I think we, internally, it was a mistake to lose was Ashley Cole.
‘Because he was playing at nine, 10 years old for the club. I knew with Fabregas that taking him away from Barcelona, at some stage he’d want to go back to Barcelona.
‘But Ashley Cole came out of the club. I think it was a misunderstanding over a few thousand pounds.
‘At the time, we spoke about [Roman] Abramovich when he came into the game, Ashley Cole is one of the few players who developed even more and continued to develop when he left.’
I always believed that it was the player that pushed to leave which forced our hand in 2006, especially with the tapping up scandal fresh in our minds, but Arsene seems to be admitting guilt here.
It seems as though Wenger is admitting that we failed ourselves in negotiating our key player’s stay at the Emirates, and seeing how Cole continued to improve after he left with his prime years still ahead of him leaves me a little miffed to be honest. Maybe Arsenal believed that Gael Clichy was going to fill the gap or surpass him with further minutes under his belt, but that was always going to be a big ask.
Did the club really underestimate Cole’s importance at the time?
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