By Tony Attwood
Many of our top players leave Arsenal towards the end of their careers. Some however leave earlier – a thought brought about by events this summer.
But what happens to such players?
I started to wonder this, in reaction to the talk of players leaving in the summer of 2011, and the seemingly universal assumption that players like Nasri, Fabregas and the like will do brilliantly well at their new clubs.
Maybe they will, and yet not everyone who has left Arsenal with a bright future has done so well, in recent times. Here’s four examples…
Flamini was one of those players tipped to have a great future at the club, and the manager was very roundly criticised by the anti-Wenger press and bloggers for letting the player go. And yet his record at Milan after leaving was not great and he struggled ever to get a place in the first team. He made 20 appearances last season, and did indeed win the league with Milan, but many of these were as a sub, as has been the case during his three years with the club.
Alex Hleb has stated (July 2009) that his decision to leave Arsenal was a mistake – in fact the biggest mistake of his life. In his first year with Barca the club won the treble, and Hleb started five games. He then went back to Stuttgart on loan before going to Birmingham City again on loan. He has said he would like to remain in the EPL – ideally at Arsenal, but at the moment I am not sure where he will play. I believe Barca are still paying his salary.
On 14 July 2005, Arsenal took €20 million from Juve for Vieira. It was however a bad move, not just for the arguments with Zlatan Ibrahimović, but also because Juve were found guilty of match fixing, stripped of their championships and relegated. Patrick left.
In August 2006 Vieira signed for Internazionale for less than half the fee Arsenal got for him just one year earlier. Here Patrick was not a regular starter in the team that won the league three times, and became a backup to others. In January 2009 Patrick started just his fifth match of the season and after the match José Mourinho publicly humiliated the player, saying he had played his last game at Inter.
On 25 June 2007 Henry went to Barce for €24 million. After leaving he said that uncertainty over the future of Mr Wenger, following attacks on his management style in the press and by press-followers in blogs had influenced him. He said also, “Because of my seniority, the fact that I was captain and my habit of screaming for the ball, they would sometimes give it to me even when I was not in the best position. So in that sense it was good for the team that I moved on.”
At Barca Henry couldn’t reproduce his goal scoring form and he stated publicly that he was fed up with the club. Speaking to the BBC he said how much he missed England, although he was top scorer for Barca in his first season with the club.
However after the success of 2009 Henry was deemed a backup player and only started 15 games and the President said Henry could leave. He eventually signed with New York Red Bulls.
I would welcome some other suggestions of players who have left and done well or badly. Obviously Brady and Stapleton come to mind – two players who left and not only ripped the heart out of the club but also did well in their new roles. Who else?