The Top Ten stars that regretted leaving Arsenal

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.

Dan Smith


  1. Sue says:

    That killed me seeing Petit in a Chelsea kit!

  2. Uzi Ozil says:

    Hleb is one player I admire and enjoyed watching back then… Nasri came close to him….

    He even said he regretted leaving Arsenal.

    I would have thrown Eduador in the mix but his case was that horrific injury. He was a good player who knows how to score some cool goals with his left foot.

    1. gotanidea says:

      I consider Hleb to be Arsenal’s best CAM after Bergkamp

      He had excellent close control, dribbling skill and vision. But he showed that his level was below the other Barcelona players

      1. Welbeck says:

        I remember Hleb and Rosicky running rings around teams with their creative play. Very few players leave Arsenal and have better careers after.

  3. gotanidea says:

    Great list

    We can call Sanchez a sulker or a crybaby, but he remains professional at that time. Proven by scoring 7 goals and 3 assists in just 19 Premier Laegue appearances, when Arsenal were in a very bad condition

    The others in that list also did their best till the end. That kind of spirit that I want on Arsenal’s current player, not to give up on a cold rainy match day (like the Tottenham match in Wembley, our players’ attitude were very disgusting on that day)

    1. , says:

      I think sanchez wasn’t professional to say the least, he was clearly sulking and it showed in his performance.

      1. ozziegunner says:

        Unfortunately Alexis Sanchez became self centred and selfish in his play. There is no “I” in team.

  4. Kenny Rolfe says:

    The one that killed me was Joe Baker leaving for Forest, although that was a club decision.

    1. Ingleby says:

      Yes – always my hero and an incredibly talented centre-forward.

  5. Innit says:

    It’s a bit depressing seeing all these players leave

    I hope the rumour of selling Perez for only £4 million isn’t true. We paid over £16 mil for him and hardly played him.

  6. Hokage says:

    I’m not his fan but anyone who hasn’t read the story will think it was Adebayor’s intention to leave Arsenal back then…did you also tell us the role AW played in that deal?…how would you feel if you just receive a call from your boss telling you that a fee has been agreed for your services without informing you at the beginning?….do you think he ran all the way to our fans’ section of the stadium to celebrate that goal was just ordinary?…and let’s be realistic you can hardly see players loyal to a club when they have mouths to feed back home

    1. Go ask Alice... says:

      More fool you for believing a word that comes out of that rats mouth. He was proved to be a mercenary and a provoker, put in some games get the cash and then just mouth off to your teammates and anyone else in the vicinity. He’s a trouble maker, you cannot listen to a word someone like that tells you. We all know his type. He ran up to the fans because it was the fans he wanted to piss off, home truths hurt most and that’s what the fans gave him. There was two genuine reasons Arsenal had for selling him, one was us selling off top players at that time under the instructions of our board members, the other was Adebeyor being a horrible team member not fit to wear the shirt, so good riddance.

      1. Angus says:

        Adebayor courted a move the entire window (and had a camp full of poisonous people as proved since.) Then he changed his mind and AW said I don’t care we’re done with you because of YOUR behaviour we’ll take the money, goodbye. I respect Wenger for that. The run was an example of his character. He never made such a run against anyone else who sung the same kind of songs we did before and after he left Arsenal. It didn’t stop him playing for Spurs whose fans made the worst song originally. If his beef was with Arsene then why did he run to the fans and not Wenger to make his point?

  7. waal2waal says:

    there was another that saddened me by leaving us, it was van bronkhorst, i think he went barca too. when petit arrived i prefered him to patrick at first instance and i agree with sue it was sickening to see him line-up for chelsea.

    But according to those mentioned in the feature article the way i seen the Anelka story unravel was for me worse of all. such a talent he was and unlike our belerin his speed carried with it end product – i predicted he’d score the last goal against NUFC in an FAC final and he obliged and won me a stash. the irony being that after he was seen to walk out on the arsenal another frenchman’s tenure began who would help us get over nico.

    my point is he was a wonderful asset although ever so poorly advised although with his sale in particular we began to see the start of big money transfers featuring arsenal players. For the most part leaving Arsenal FC isn’t such a bright idea there will regret and likely to be tears too.

  8. Innit says:

    Sorry Nasri and Adebayor are on my short list of ex-Arsenal players i dislike or don’t respect.

    CAshley Cole

    I don’t even hate Fabregas, Clichy, Toure, Sagna etc but these 4 I don’t like mainly for BOTH their behaviour before/after transfer AND reasons for going to a rival

    1. Sue says:

      Innit…. where is RVP????

    2. Welbeck says:

      Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t Nasri say he was meant to be the CAM after Fabregas left and he didn’t want to leave Arsenal but had to be sold in the end?

      **I’m too lazy to check google**

  9. jon fox says:

    Dan, an interesting and accurate article listing the MODERN players who left too soon. Personally, I was glad to see the back of Reyes (and Adebayor) and thought him a weed and overrated most of his time here. Being far older, us oldies could write a much more inclusive list but many youngsters would not even recognise many of the names so well known by us oldies, from yesteryear. I am now 68 and by age of 8 or 9 knew vast numbers of names of those who played for us before even the First World War( as my Granddad so often told me and also my Father, as we are now 5th generation Gooners in my family) and virtually every player who played for us in the 1930s. Those days are gone , never to return so I will not bore folk by submitting a list that may mean little or nothing to many. Your MODERN list was a good one though. BTW, I HAVE TRIED SUBMITTING NAMES FROM THE 1950/60S ON HERE FAIRLY RECENTLY and met a virtual blank, except from fellow oldies. C’est la vie!

  10. deji says:

    Anthony Reyes ,believe me it was Henry attitude and cabal that sent the poor boy away. song,has grudges with Wenger assistance,Steve.Who again do I wanted to defend?

  11. Uchman says:

    it amazes me how some pple here still believed that wenger wasn’t a coach when over 99% of players who left his guidance never become better players!!! is very sad how we continually insult and abuse a man who gave us the best 22 years in our entire history,

    1. ozziegunner says:

      First 10 years, yes.

  12. Elly- Zambia says:

    This should serve as a warning to Aaron Ramsey.

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