Top Ten stars that regret leaving Arsenal by Dan Smith
Last week Samir Nasri had his drugs ban increased to 18 months. The fact his appeal wasn’t widespread news shows how much the Frenchmen has fallen into the wilderness. The player famously danced with his agent in their car when they realised just how much Man City were willing to pay. His bank balence and winning the Premiership doesn’t mean it was a good career move to leave the Emirates when he did. It was in North London where he displayed his best form, at the time looking like he could step into Fabregas’s shoes. The richer he became the less desire he seemed to have to reach his potential.
If he stayed a gooner he might have become a better talent and delivered for his country.
Here are 10 former Gunners who perhaps regretted leaving.
10- Sanchez – Okay this is tongue in cheek but with Jose’s negative tatics how long till the Chilean regrets picking to go to Old Trafford? We know first hand it won’t take much for the body language to turn negative and gloves to be thrown. Too many more nights like Seville and he might wish he chose the blue half of the city. Respected since he came to England, there is now an asterisk next to his name. By the time he finished sulking with us and how long it took to settle after January, he effectively wasted a season. The true greats would have been more professional.
9- Reyes – Like a lot of Spanish players home sickness was an issue. Reyes seemed to suffer from it from day one even when his family moved to London. With hindsight, given how much we invested in him he should have made more of an effort to embrace his new environment. From the start he was informing the media about missing Madrid, on one occasion getting caught in a hoax admitting there were ‘bad people at Arsenal’, thinking he was talking to Real Madrid directors. Given how quickly the Untouchables were broken up, with more emphasis put on youth, Reyes could have led the new era.
8- Eboue – I have included him for very different reasons that go beyond football. While many accuse Arsene Wenger of putting too much faith/trust in his squad, it was this environment that looked after Eboue, the full back stating he missed the guidance of the family feel of the club. Despite winning the title in Turkey, the Ivorian started to make poor business decisions, complicated when he divorced his wife. He lost so much money he could no longer pay his agent. In 2017 he told English media he was now homeless. Thankfully Arsenal and Galastasaray have offered support.
7- Thomas Vermaelen
Effectively the Belgian swapped the treatment table at Arsenal for the one at Barcelona. By the time he left, he was so injury jinxed we didn’t put up much of a fight to keep him. The majority of a loan switch to Roma was spent getting more medical treatment. What the defender needs is a steady run of games. Arsene Wenger would have given him more second chances then he will get at the Nou Camp.
6- Adebayor- The irony is the one club he speaks so badly of is where he produced the best work of his career. The Togo striker essentially turned his back on silverware, going anywhere in Europe to the highest bidders. It became the norm for him to be brilliant during a loan spell, then stopped working hard once the deal was made permanent. The fact that so young he was settling for free transfers to Crystal Palace is such a waste. It’s a shame he doesn’t realise he got the wages he did due to the platform we gave him.
5- Song- This always felt like a head vs heart situation. Song must have known he wasn’t going to get into Barcelona’s midfield but how could he say no to such an opportunity, especially if Arsenal were selling their best players. The Cameroon midfielder was given so few chances it’s like the Catalans signed him just to wind us up. When he was loaned to Russia then West Ham, an argument could be made that we should have re-signed him, due to our need for a DM.
4- Hleb- Has admitted crying over the prospect of leaving Arsenal, perhaps knowing he was gambling by trying to break into Barcelona’s attack but like all great players backing himself to deliver. There was no disgrace to not get game time at the Nou Camp but he seemed to lose his confidence once he was loaned out. The fact Arsene Wenger, a huge fan of him, didn’t enquire about him but Birmingham did, tells you how much he lost his mojo.
3- Overmars – In one swoop Barcelona took Overmars and Petit away from us, two men vital in us winning the double in 1998. 25 million ended up a great fee as the Dutchmen’s time in Spain was handicapped by a knee injury. The irony is it was this issue that let Arsene Wenger get him at a cut price, with most assuming he was finished. The Frenchmen set up a specific training regime, specific to the player’s needs. Barcelona at the time were going through a trophy drought, seeing them change managers frequently and fans impatient.
2- Petit- Like Overmars, Petit sacrificed his legacy at Arsenal thinking the grass was greener at Barcelona. As crazy as it is to say in 2018, the Nou Camp was not as stable as Highbury, with the Catalans underachieving. Given the loss it felt at the time, it’s incredible his stay in Spain lasted a year. Niggling injuries had started to creep in and when he returned to England with Chelsea, it was incredible the decline from 2 years previous. With a close bond with Arsene Wenger, stretching back to Monaco, Petit wanted to come back. The fact the Frenchmen would happily see him go to Stamford Bridge tells you how bad Petit’s knee became.
1- Anelka- it’s not that the striker didn’t win silverware elsewhere but he didn’t become the World Class superstar predicted he’d become as a teenager. The Frenchmen listened to his older brothers who auctioned him out throughout Europe to the highest bidder. Madrid, Paris, Istanbal, London, heck even Bolton…… He’d go anywhere if they pay the right salary. He since admitted regret not at least coming back to us as that was his best spell.