Arsenal is one of the greatest English clubs in this era and the Gunners have a rich history to add to their present class. Arsenal’s recent rise has been under the hands of Arsene Wenger as the French manager has taken Arsenal to new heights.
The Frenchman has been instrumental for some of the biggest things that has happened to Arsenal, relocating them to Emirates Stadium is one of those. But another thing that has changed Arsenal under Wenger is the nourishment of young talents and giving them the chances. Arsenal have been the home of raw, fresh talents throughout Wenger’s tenure and young promising starlets have taken a center stage and have made a name for themselves.
But after their move at the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal had a huge amount of debt to pay and that has led some of their players to be sold. But even despite that, there have been some Arsenal players who were playing in the best form at the Emirates, but they decided to move on to bigger clubs and dismantled their careers thereafter.
Today we shall take a look at three of Arsenal players who left Arsenal at the wrong time and made a mess of their career, incidentally all these players made a move to Spanish giants Barcelona.
- Alexander Hleb:
Hleb joined Arsenal in 2005 from Vfb Stuttgart and made a name for him at North London. He was a regular at the club but in the summer of 2008, Hleb decided to leave Gunners for Barcelona.Embed from Getty Images
The move was eyebrow raising but the Belarusian thought it was the right decision. But his stint at Nou Camp was mostly on the bench or on loan at other clubs. He had loan spells in Stuttgart, Birmingham and Wolfsburg before leaving the Catalans in 2012 after just playing 19 league games in the last 4 years.
In an interview recently, Hleb admitted that he regrets that he left Arsenal and if he had stayed he could have played 5 more years at the top level.
“Part of me regrets not staying at Arsenal,” he said. “Wenger was like a father to me and he trusted me. It saddens me to think about it. But at the same time, Barcelona was – and is – the bigger club. I didn’t play as much, but I did play a bit.”
- Alexandre Song:
Another player who left Arsenal at the wrong time is Alex Song. The Cameroonian joined the Gunners as an 18 year old and slowly made his way up to the first team. In the spell between 2010-2012, he was one of the best central defensive midfielders in the Premier League, but left Arsenal for Barcelona in 2012.Song also mentioned that he couldn’t miss the Barcelona train when it arrived for him, but eventually the train couldn’t take him to greater heights. He was never a regular at Nou Camp and was out of favor quickly. He had back to back loan spells at West Ham and then left Barcelona in 2016 after playing just 39 league games. He now plays in Russia with Rubin Kazan.
- Thomas Vermaelen:
Vermaelen left Arsenal in bizarre circumstances in 2014. He was not even a regular at Arsenal but he decided to seek pastures new at the Catalan club. His career at Barcelona started with injuries as he had to undergo hamstring operation as well. He couldn’t really cement his place by any stretch of imaginations in the La Liga and was loaned to AS Roma. At Roma, his struggle with injury issues continued and he only managed to play 12 games for them last season. Since leaving North London, the Belgian has played 19 league games in the last three seasons.Embed from Getty Images
His move was another too ambitious decision that led to catastrophe. Perhaps he could fight at Arsenal for his place and given he was a settled player and also the captain of Arsenal at that time, things could have been a lot more smoother.
These are some of the Arsenal players who have lost their way after leaving the Gunners. But it’s not the fate for all of the players as Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabregas have done well after joining Barcelona from Arsenal.