Arsenal Alumni: The grass is now greener

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Robin van Persie has been coming under fire for the statement he released on his personal website, which confirmed he would not be extending his contract with the Gunners.


Despite the tone of the statement and selected words in it being ill-advised, Van Persie’s claim that he did not believe his desire to win trophies could be fulfilled with the Emirates Stadium club is hardly an outrageous one.


Arsenal fans used to pride themselves on the subsequent lack of success of a number of players who left with the aim to go onto better things at bigger clubs after winning trophies in the early Wenger era.


Emmanuel Petit and Marc Overmars were two that many like to mention, with the pair’s joint move to Barcelona yielding no success on the pitch.


Both suffered from injury problems, but Overmars had such trouble he was forced to retire from football due to knee ligament damage and his double win with Arsenal was the last trophy success he tasted.


The speedy winger briefly came out of retirement in 2008 for the club of his youth, Go Ahead Eagles, but it was only for a single season and his appearances were brief.


Petit, meanwhile, never really fell into favour at Camp Nou, never mind fall out of it, and spent a miserable season there before moving back to the Premier League and Chelsea.


Despite being a more regular pick for the Blues, Petit could never really hit the heights he did with their London rivals – the closest he came to a prize was the 2002 FA Cup final, but they came up against his former club on their way to another double win.


Nicolas Anelka was another who decided he should have been at a bigger club after some success with the Gunners, but it took him a long time to realise his undoubted talent.


Arsenal, as with many of their transfers, made a huge profit after Anelka forced through a move to Real Madrid, getting £22.3million for a player they had bought for under £1million just two seasons previously.


In Anelka’s defence, he did eventually taste success, but this came after many years of falling out with managers, often changing clubs and racking up a cumulative transfer value of just under £90million.


Travails of former Gunners no longer provide such schadenfreude for the club’s fans, which undoubtedly has influenced Van Persie’s decision to force a move away from Emirates Stadium, however boneheaded he went about it.


Thierry Henry was held in even greater regard than the current captain, but conducted himself in a way that kept his relationship with the supporters sweet.


‘Titi’ was another who made the move to Barcelona, but his time there took in a Champions league triumph, a La Liga winners medal and a Copa del Rey final victory.


His brief reappearance this season further enhanced his reputation with the club, but his move away brought about the European success he had been unable to achieve under Wenger.


Patrick Vieira was a giant in Wenger’s best Arsenal sides, but was surprisingly shipped out after the club resisted numerous summers of speculation.


A natural successor to ‘Mr Arsenal’ Tony Adams, Vieira captained Arsenal for a number of years and his success on the pitch did not end when he mad the transfer to Serie A side Juventus and won the Scudetto in his first year.


That was stripped a year later because of the Calciopoli scandal and Vieira moved to Inter Milan following Juve’s relegation after being found guilty of match fixing.


The Frenchman then won three titles in a row at the San Siro, but age and injury began to catch up on him and he spent the final six months of his career at Manchester City before taking up a job there.


Manchester City has been strongly suggested as one of Van Persie’s possible destinations, where he would join Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri as ex-Arsenal men who have made the trip north to the Abu Dhabi funded club.


Emmanuel Adebayor was another but his relationship with the Citizens was an unhealthy one and he has spent to past two seasons on loan at various clubs, most notably last season with Arsenal’s bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur.


The first three had their decisions to move in search of greater trophy success vindicated last season as Roberto Mancini’s side managed to pip Manchester United to the Premier League in the dying seconds of the final day of the season.


Captain before Van Persie was Cesc Fabregas, who had made history with the club setting records as youngest goalscorer in various competitions, becoming the darling of the fans.


There was acceptance, however, when he decided he wanted to return to the club of his youth in Barcelona and nobody could really begrudge him the opportunity, especially since Arsenal’s monetary compensation was to the tune of £35million.


While Barcelona could not maintain the heights of recent seasons, Fabregas’ first competitive game for the Catalonians was the Spanish Super Cup victory over Real Madrid.


A Copa del Rey winners medal would still have been enough to vindicate his decision to depart Wenger’s squad, what with the six barren years he was present for.


Van Persie’s decision is similarly straightforward, in that he has also endured a dearth of trophy successes since the 2005 FA Cup.


He is probably going to sign the last major contract of his career and desperately wants to win titles.


His form is better than it has ever been, meaning he can just about choose where he wants to go and the offers are unlikely to be small.


RVP definitely could have gone about it better, but his decision to leave can’t really be criticised now it is plain the grass is greener on the other side.

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Tottenham Hotspur
Robin Van Persie
Emmanuel Adebayor
European News
Nicolas Anelka
Manchester City
Premier League
Kolo Toure
UEFA Champions League
Manchester United
Marc Overmars
Gael Clichy
Tony Adams
Patrick Vieira
FA Cup
Patrick Vieira
Thierry Henry
Samir Nasri

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