Over the years, Arsenal have become known for allowing big names to leave for their rivals clubs. So much, that even today, many of their players are constantly linked with their close rivals.
With talks of Hector Bellerin leaving Arsenal for Manchester City next summer dominating the news, let’s take a look at some of the players who have managed to make a switch from the Gunners to a rival club.
Here are 5 big Arsenal players who left the London club in order to join their opponents.
- Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal – Barcelona – Chelsea)
Fabregas spent 8 years playing with the Gunners before leaving for Barcelona in 2011, and finally joining Arsenal’s cross-town rivals Chelsea – much to the annoyance of Arsenal fans.
Originally starting out in Barcelona’s Youth Academy, Fabregas joined Arsenal in 2003, making his debut the same year as a 16-year-old. Due to several injuries in the Arsenal first team squad, Fabregas was able to establish himself in Wenger’s senior squad.
He went on to become one of the best midfielders in Europe, and was even handed the armband in 2008.
Fabregas made a total of 303 appearances for Arsenal before completing a £35 million move back to Barcelona in 2011, where he spent a further 3 seasons.
He eventually joined Arsenal’s cross-town neighbors Chelsea in 2014 for £30 million, after claiming that he was not happy in Spain.
So far, Fabregas has played 100 games for the Blues, and has already helped the side win a Premier League title.
- Emmanuel Adebayor (Arsenal – Manchester City)
Arriving for £3 million from Monaco, Adebayor brought with him plenty of promise, and Arsene Wenger was keen to see the Togolese establish himself as a top class forward.
He made his Arsenal debut in 2006, and scored a total 4 goals during his first season with the club.
Adebayor never managed to win a trophy with the Gunners, with his closest chance coming in 2006, when Arsenal faced Chelsea in the League Cup final. Adebayor was sent off during the final for a quarrel with Frank Lampard.
He was never idolized for his work rate, but Adebayor did have moments of brilliance, although he could never maintain his form for a long length of time.
In the 2007/08 season, Adebayor was named in the Premier League PFA Team of the Year, and he was also named the African Player of the Year in 2008.
Adebayor joined Arsenal’s rivals Manchester City in 2009 after his impressive performances for the Gunners. Manchester City were believed to have paid a massive £25 million to secure the Togolese.
He began his City career with impressive form, scoring in his first 4 games for the club, but again failed to maintain it.
In his fourth match playing for Manchester City, Adebayor faced Arsenal, against whom he caused a lot of controversies.
First, he scored against his former side, and ran almost the full length of the pitch in order to celebrate in front of the Arsenal fans. And throughout the match, he was also seen stepping and slapping his former teammates.
- Samir Nasri (Arsenal – Manchester City)
Samir Nasri joined Arsenal in 2008, for an £11 million fee. On his arrival, he was compared with the likes of Zinedine Zidane, but he couldn’t manage to have quite the career that Zidane had.
The Frenchman struggled to cement himself in the first-team squad, after struggling to maintain his form. It was clear that he was immensely talented, but he was not able to keep his performances at a high level for a long enough time.
He spent 4 seasons at Arsenal, making 125 appearances and scoring 27 goals before moving to Manchester City in 2011, after refusing to sign a contract extension with the Gunners.
Nasri had a much more successful time at Manchester City compared to his spell at Arsenal. He helped the Citizens with 2 Premier League titles and a League Cup.
However, his inability to maintain his high level of performances resulted in him being slowly phased out of the Manchester City squad.
He is currently on loan at Sevilla from Manchester City.
- Ashley Cole (Arsenal – Chelsea)
Possibly one of the greatest ever English left-backs during his day, Ashley Cole began his career in the Arsenal Youth Squad.
He made his first-team debut in 1999 when he was 18 years old. Cole caught a lucky break in the 2000/01 season when Arsenal’s established left-back, Sylvinho, was out injured. He then managed to cement himself into the Arsenal starting eleven, and even remained in the position after Sylvinho recovered from his injury.
Ashley Cole made over 200 appearances for the Gunners, and was also an integral part of ‘The Invincibles’ team in the 2003/04 season – the squad that went the entire Premier League season without a loss.
Cole left Arsenal for their cross-town rivals Chelsea in 2006, after a lengthy transfer saga. The move was confirmed after the transfer deadline had passed.
The player had refused to stay with Arsenal after the club failed to meet Cole’s wage expectations. The Gunners offered him a new £55,000-a-week contract, but instead Cole opted for Chelsea’s much higher £90,000-a-week wages.
He spent a total of 8 seasons at Chelsea, making over 330 appearances before leaving for AS Roma in 2014.
- Robin Van Persie (Arsenal – Manchester United)
One of the more recent examples of a big name Arsenal player moving to a rival club would be Robin Van Persie’s switch from the Gunners to Manchester United in 2012.
Van Persie had spent a total of 8 years with Arsenal, scoring 132 goals in his 277 appearances. His career with the Gunners was prolific, but plagued with injuries.
He joined Arsenal in 2004 from Dutch side Feyenoord, and made his first-team debut for the Gunners against Manchester United in the FA Community Shield match, which Arsenal won 3-1.
Van Persie managed to establish himself in the first-team squad during the 2005/06 season, starting off the campaign with a Player of the Month award.
During his time at Arsenal, the striker had helped the side win the 2004/05 FA Cup and the 2004 Community Shield.
In 2012, Van Persie decided to leave Arsenal and joined Manchester United, a move which angered many Arsenal fans.
After joining United, the Dutch striker made an instant impact, and helped the Red Devils win the 2012/13 Premier League – their last League title in the past 3 years.