It’s most likely Ozil has played his last game for Arsenal. If he insists on staying till his contract expires, he could pass the year since he last kicked a ball. Whatever your opinion it’s quite an unflattering way for a talent who contributed 4 FA Cups to depart.
Which prompted me to write one of my top 10 lists.
Who else left the Gunners on not the best terms, where one or both parties didn’t handle themselves with class?
I’m going off the Prem era but older gooners feel free to share any stories you can think of in the comments.
Okay not saying he was an Arsenal legend, but this story always baffles me.
In 2001, Wright was viewed as a future England keeper. He moved to Highbury on the understanding that David Seaman would be retiring in the next couple of years so be patient and just wait. Mr Wenger promised in the meantime he could be our ‘cup keeper’.
Injuries meant he in fact also played 12 times in the Premiership, qualifying for a title medal. He ended up playing 22 games, not a bad total for a second-choice goalie. Even though he made errors he had contributed to our Double.
The turning point was the FA Cup Final where Wright (who had played every round) was dropped for the Final. Wright viewed this as a direct break of a promise something he wasn’t shy repeating over the years.
Wenger has always maintained Seamen was at an age where Wright’s game time would only have increased.
When he left in 1998 it seemed as simple as Middlesbrough being prepared to double his wages. Yet there have been subsequent comments over the years which suggest his departure may have been not pleasant.
One theory is the player who has been open about his battle with addictions wasn’t comfortable with the strict dietary and training methods being introduced. It’s been suggested he found his new club had a strong drinking and gambling culture, and watching ex-teammates at Highbury have success without him made him bitter. Essentially if he stayed (for less money) he would have won a Double.
Asked about several comments made by the pundit, Arsene Wenger seemed to imply he tried his best, but the talent wasn’t there. That’s led to Merson feeling the need to point out how Arsenal begged him not to leave.
I didn’t know if I should include this as in the end Arsenal were probably happy with the profit, they made. What Arsene Wenger has never been impressed by was how the teenager handled negotiations. Or more precisely, his brothers.
Fans and even teammates had already got the impression the youngster wasn’t exactly happy in London, hence the nick name ‘ Le Sulk.’
Yet when he was being advised Real Madrid wanted him, he showed zero respect to the club who had given him an opportunity. Anelka essentially went AWOL, his siblings taking him to a hotel where they could control negotiations.
This was years before mobiles and social media meaning they would choose when it was suitable for them for their ‘client ‘ to be contactable. In other words they gave an open line to Madrid but not Arsenal, even though he was our player.
So we are all used to Arsenal allowing a player to get to the final 12 months of their contract. The club have even been prepared to force a player to stay, rather having him leave for free, then sell to a rival for a reduced fee.
That’s why Van Persie went into business for himself by making a statement stressing loud and clear he wanted to go. While it’s hard years later to argue with the content of the letter, it did seem disrespectful to an employer of 9 years. He was essentially giving details of a confidential chat and letting the public know we had zero ambition.
This remember was our captain.
The irony being the striker years later would ring Arsene Wenger enquiring about a return.
Had spent 9 years with us, in which time we won three FA Cups, enough to provide any player with a decent legacy.
For the last few years though the defender has struggled with an Achilles injury which was making it hard for him to play twice a week. Even before the injury got so bad, he missed 9 months of action.
Our captain accepted he couldn’t handle the physical nature of the English game anymore, so agreed in the short term for his game time to be managed before being allowed to return to France on a free in 2019.
The issue was, both agreements were with Arsene Wenger and the message wasn’t passed on or now ignored.
Due to injuries to others, our ex skipper felt Unai Emery overplayed him then the club broke their promise of making him a free agent.
His agent had obviously told French clubs they wouldn’t have to pay a fee, so there was a standoff between all parties when Arsenal started quoting numbers. Feeling lied to, the defender felt his only way to force a move was to refuse to go on our preseason tour, forcing the price down.
The little credit he had left with gooners he nearly ruined by his unveiling video at Bordeaux.
He has since tried to clarify his side of the story.
For years whispers were developing about this young teenager Arsenal had in their academy called Jack Wilshere.
I was at the Emirates when the then 16-year-old scored his first senior goal.
Man of the match displays against Barcelona led to praise from the likes of Xavi and Iniesta.
He was viewed as a future captain for both club and country, England rarely produced technical players like him.
It seemed inconceivable that the Gunners would choose to run down his contract and not offer him a new one.
In the summer of 2018, the midfielder felt he had a promise with his employers, he would be offered a fresh deal if he could prove his fitness after years of injuries. He was even willing to accept a pay as you play agreement with incentives. That though was the arrangement when Arsene Wenger was in charge.
One of Unai Emery’s first tasks was to inform the player he didn’t fit into his plans. It would be one of the few things the Spaniard was proven correct over as West Ham would release super Jack for the same reason.
His heart is willing, his body is not.
To this day claims to ‘hate’ Arsenal and calls Arsene Wenger a ‘fake’ for publicly implying the player was motivated by money and that’s why he moved to Man City. The striker maintains when informed of the transfer he in fact wanted to stay, but it was made clear to him he would be frozen out if he didn’t agree to the move.
He claims he was told by his manager, ‘there is no fight organised, we are not going to organise a fight for you.’
So instead of the idea that he was one of the first Gunners to be seduced by the wages on offer at the Etihad, which has long been the perception, the reality could be it was another example of us having to sell an asset every summer to pay off the stadium debt.
It should be stressed the club have never confirmed this story, and even if true, it’s still not justification to disrespect the club which made you a household name.
This couldn’t be helped but it hurt Pires’ pride to such an extent he went a couple of years after not speaking to Mr Wenger.
The Champions League Final in your own country, in front of your friends and family would be the biggest game of anyone’s career. Pires though also knew it was his last game for Arsenal.
Early on Jens Lehman was famously sent off against Barcelona leaving our manager no choice but to sacrifice an attacking player to bring on a keeper.
Pires has never agreed with the decision as he saw it as a lack of faith in his ability but the two eventually kissed and made up with the midfielder invited back to North London as a coach.
One of the most emotional chapters in Ian Wright ‘s autobiography was a meeting he had with David Dein and Arsene Wenger in the summer of 1998. Wright was informed it was unlikely he be getting much game time now due to the emergence of Anelka. He was ushered into the next room where the owners of West Ham were waiting with a contract.
In hindsight Wright suggests it was arranged in this fashion as Dein knew, given time to think about things, the striker would have fought for his future at Highbury. Wright says as soon as he got outside (now a Hammer) he broke down in tears, realising it was the end of a special relationship.
Arsenal has become a good cup side but due to (in my opinion) a drinking culture at the club had lost consistency in the League. That’s not though why George Graham was sacked though.
The manager was being investigated for taking an illegal payment from an agent. He was still shocked by the sacking as he had been transparent with his employers throughout the investigation. The FA eventually banned him from football for two years.
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