Samir Nasri is reportedly training with West Ham in a bid to earn a contract once his drugs ban is completed. It’s the kind of deal David Gould/Sullivan have become known for, attempting to sign a talent with name value, ignoring why they are a free agent in the first place.
Just like Patrice Evra last year, the hope is the player will be motivated in the short term to make himself relevant again. It’s strange to think the Frenchman is only 31, meaning the last few years should have been the peak of his powers. Instead he’s missed out on a European Championship in his own country and a World Cup medal. This from a man who in his early twenties Arsenal thought could have cushioned the blow of losing Fabregas, that’s how good he was for us.
He will argue that at Man City he earned more trophies and money then he would have if he had stayed at the Emirates. In the process though his form fell off a cliff. Of all the talent to leave us he would have to top the list for individuals who went backwards. As it’s the international break here is 10 others whose powers waned after leaving North London.
Petit & Overmars
Many Gooners were depressed when we sold this duo to Barcelona for a combined 30 million. The two had been instrumental in us winning the Double. The irony being that it was two serious injuries that allowed Arsene Wenger to bring them to England relatively cheaply, with most of Europe viewing them as gambles. History would tell us we sold at the right time with both men’s bodies collapsing in Spain, Petit in particular having problems. In other words, Arsenal had squeezed the last drop out of the midfielders, selling at the right time. Underachieving at the time, the Catalans were unforgiving and showed little sympathy for either of their new signings. Petit returned to London and it was sad to see him hobble round at Chelsea, a shadow of his former self. Overmars remained at the Nou Camp until 2004 but was always on the fringes due to managerial changes and a knee injury which eventually forced him to retire.
On more than one one occasion Hleb has admitted leaving Arsenal as being ‘ the biggest regret of my life’. It must have been a head vs heart moment when Barcelona wanted him. The heart saying it was too good to turn down, the head knowing you were not going to break into their famous midfield. Just a year after paying 17 million for him, Barca were already willing to loan him out. In more than one instance the Belarus star hinted for Arsenal to come and get him back, but injuries were becoming more common. A loan switch to Birmingham was a chance to prove he could still handle the physicality of the Premiership, but he barely played due to more fitness problems. So long on the side-lines meant no one was willing to pay his wages, forcing Barca to release him. Even as a free agent he sent come and get me pleas to Arsene Wenger. Instead he went to Russia, has played back in his homeland and is currently plying his trade In Turkey.
Famously nick named the ‘Fox in the Box’, Jeffers was brought in to score the type of goals our more flamboyant strikers couldn’t, the scruffy tap ins where the centre forward has the knack of being in the right place at the right time. There’s no disgrace being behind the likes of Henry, Bergkamp, Wiltord or Kanu. Jeffers was 20 at the time with Arsene Wenger signing him for the future. He had earned his reputation with his scoring records for both Everton’s and England’s under age groups. The sign of things to come were evident in his first two seasons at Goodison. A teenager at the time, he never finished a campaign due to ankle injuries and upset Walter Smith in how he tried to force a move.
This is an example of a player who moved outside of his comfort zone too soon. A born Evertonian, he lacked the mentality to shake off injuries at Highbury. He had gone from playing every week to now having to impress in the odd cup tie. It’s clear that not making the grade at a top club affected him in the mind as well as niggling injuries. It’s worth remembering he was only 22 when we cut our losses, more than enough time to rescue his career. Yet a return to his boyhood club, Charlton, Blackburn, Rangers, Ipswich, even stints in Australia never saw him have the goal to game ratio he did as a teenager. Thankfully for his mental health, Everton have always looked after one of their own, letting him train with them when unemployed and now working with their academy.
When we signed him was viewed as England’s future number 1 keeper. That the current Three Lions goalie was with the club Wright signed for suggests he was originally willing to be patient to make his Arsenal move work. He in fact played 22 times in his one and only season at Highbury, more than contributing to us winning the Double. The fact he asked to leave just a year after signing a five-year contract, originally happy to wait for David Seaman to retire, suggests somewhere he felt promises were broken. When fit, he had been our cup keeper yet was demoted for the FA Cup Final. It’s believed this is the moment he felt proved that Arsene Wenger didn’t trust him. If he had waited one more season, he would have seen Seaman hang up his boots. Instead he went to Everton, so he could start every week. Injuries meant he would end up second fiddle, ironically to another veteran he was predicted to replace in the National team, Nigel Martyn. His international career so many expected when he was a youngster at Ipswich never got better than the two caps he had already earnt. Injuries suffered at Goodison saw him drop down divisions so he could remain first choice in his position. He made an interesting choice in 2012, signing for Man City swapping first team football in League one for the comfort of being third / fourth choice at one of the richest sides in the world. Cynics say City only did this to help meet the quota of UK players you had to have. It’s worth considering he would be on the books at the Etihad for 4 years, not playing once. It’s worked out for him in terms of that’s been enough to become one of Pep’s coaches.
Needs to be put into context as somewhere along the line the striker clearly cared about earning as much money as possible at the expense of trophies (he has one Copa del Rey to his name). He started to garner a reputation as playing well in loan spells to impress new employers, his levels dropping once signed on a permanent basis. It’s not uncommon for African players not to maintain consistency in Europe. Some have had hard backgrounds and are sending money back home to their entire families. What’s surprising is how angry Adebayor seems regarding Arsenal compared to his 6 other ex-clubs. It was with us he displayed his best form. Form that made him win African Footballer of the Year and gave him the platform to earn the millions he has.
I’m one of the few gooners who originally defended the striker when he first broke through the ranks, remembering his goal to game ratio was decent in his first few years. If he had kept his mouth shut, he wouldn’t have invited the mockery that has followed him his entire life, namely calling himself one of the best players in the world. To be fair he has always embraced the teasing and used it to create his own gimmick, especially when he couldn’t score on loan at Sunderland or Juventus. He became so unwanted we couldn’t get him off the wage bill, the Dane ending up with his own song, ‘he only scores cause your ….’. He’s more of a celebrity back in Denmark due to high profile relationships and a partying lifestyle. He may have crossed the line, having been sentenced to 50 days in prison this month. His legacy will be for what he said and did away from the pitch.
A bit harsh as you can argue the striker was never good enough for this level and was only brought as he was out of contract, at a time when we were paying off the stadium debt. He would embody everything that was wrong with the mentality in our squad. When confident, the Moroccan became the first player to score in 6 consecutive Champions League fixtures. When he lost his mojo, he simply never had the personality to find it again. West Ham, Crystal Palace and Cardiff were all short stints where he failed to rebuild his reputation. He hasn’t had a club in two years despite once being highly thought of in France.
Classic example to youngsters that talent alone will only get you so far, you need the dedication to remain a professional sports person. Bentley enjoyed the highs of scoring hat tricks against Man United, being labelled the next David Beckham and scoring against us with a 43-yard volley. Yet he lacked the mentality when things were not going his way. Having lost his way at Spurs the turning point may have been a knee injury while on loan at West Ham. Suddenly he spent six months recovering at a club where he knew he had zero future. A man who had played for England a year previous was now going to Russia to try and kick start his career. In 2014 Bentley retired at the age just 29, citing that he had ‘fallen out of love with football’. In various interviews he has been very honest about the lifestyle of the profession, earning enough money by the age of 30 to never have to work again. He has invested in restaurants and night clubs in Spain and the UK. Everyone should do what makes them happy, you wouldn’t wish anyone’s mental health to suffer, doing something they don’t want to do anymore. Yet how many people would have loved the opportunity he walked away from?
Spent the summer in the Big Brother House in a bid to prove that his party boy image wasn’t true. A couple of months later was on Jeremy Kyle refusing to take a lie detector test. The saddest part on his stint with reality TV was watching him try to convince housemates how good he was for Liverpool in the Champion’s League Final. A game he lost being the sole game he clings too as representative of his career. That would be a false dawn. One he would have with 14 clubs, taking him from England, Scotland, India and Singapore. His new book is worth a read as the majority of those experiences are overshadowed by a lack of professionalism. One of the selling points to his autobiography is the night before scoring a hat trick for Arsenal, he was knocking back alcohol, breaking numerous curfews. That he admits this with such openness is endearing in some ways, sad in others. Some believe with the talent he had, he could have played for England if he lived his life differently. The man himself says where he came from, he in fact over achieved. You decide ?