Arsenal Transfer Disasters: Losses That Stung the Most for Gunners
It's safe to say that Arsenal has not had the best luck with transfers recently. As many high-profile players exit en masse, many are hurt by players' view of the club as a stepping stone to other things.
Yet this is nothing particularly new to Gunners fans, who have dealt with disappointment and rejection for years and with many of their most beloved icons.
Even when a player does not ostensibly leave for more money somewhere else, it can be difficult to see a player go when he plays well for Arsenal and still puts himself in the shop window to attract suitors.
With the announcement of Robin van Persie's intention to leave and the news of Theo Walcott's contractual reservations, let's take a look at some of the toughest transfer losses in Arsenal history.
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Liam Brady's silky smooth playing style in midfield was many years ahead of his time and injected a fluidity into Arsenal's game that it had never seen before and would not again until the arrival of Arsene Wenger.
The Irishman was the brains behind the many great Gunner sides of the 1970s, and he controlled every aspect of Arsenal's attack when he was at the height of his powers.
Upon his untimely departure to Juventus at the age of 24, the entire atmosphere at the club seemed deflated, and there was a generally somber mood around Highbury, as fans and players alike knew that they had lost the best and most important player on the team.
Arsenal would not find another as eloquent on the pitch for another 30 years.
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Arsenal's towering midfield maestro and vivacious leader put in nine years of wonderful service to the club before he left in 2005, but there was a feeling that the team changed when he left.
Vieira had marketed himself almost every summer for years prior to his move to Juventus, and his footballing powers were definitely on the wane. However, his indomitable spirit and imposing presence in the center of the pitch embodied Arsenal and all its success during his tenure.
One can make the argument that Arsene Wenger sold him at the right time, but even with a promising lad named Cesc Fabregas ready to assume the master's mantle, Vieira's presence has never been replaced.
It is no coincidence that Arsenal have not won a single major trophy since he last kicked a ball for the club.
Jose Antonio Reyes
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Perhaps the name of Jose Antonio Reyes does not produce the same emotional reaction among Arsenal supporters as some others on this list, but his departure in 2007 was met with considerable regret.
When he arrived three years previously, Reyes was thought of as one of the most promising prospects in football and an extremely ambitious buy for Arsene Wenger. If the manager could hone Reyes' talents, he would have a superstar on his hands.
Except few things went to plan in the Spaniard's development. Hampered by homesickness and injury, he was never able to settle in London and disappointed more and more as he stayed longer at the club.
Ultimately, his time at Arsenal was seen as a failure when he left, and his purchase is regarded as a rare miscalculation on Wenger's part. At least Reyes is finding some measure of success back at Sevilla.
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All Arsenal fans are familiar with the infamous series of events that led to Ashley Cole's move to Chelsea in 2006 and the transformation of a local hero into a villain.
After Arsenal's contract offer and pay raise was not up to Cole's standards, he was illegally approached by Chelsea and secured his move across London under very shady circumstances.
The Gunners lost one of the best and most consistent left-backs in the world to one of their main rivals, and, except for one good season from Gael Clichy, have never managed to replace his presence on the left flank.
And every time Cole returns to the Emirates Stadium, he is treated to chants of "Cashley Cole."
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Adebayor arguably started the current trend of Arsenal players jumping ship for considerably financial terms when he left for Manchester City in 2009 after a contract dispute with Arsenal.
From his perspective, a single, albeit very productive stretch with the Gunners merited a mega-deal. Even if Arsenal had been inclined to give one to the Togolese striker, City were committed to beating that offer by a large sum.
So, under fairly acrimonious circumstances, he moved to Manchester and left Arsenal without the tall goalscorer that was a perfect foil to Robin van Persie in a 4-4-2 formation.
Among the litany of things that Adebayor has done to rub salt in the wounds of his old club is classlessly running the length of the pitch to taunt Arsenal fans and becoming a lethal goalscorer for Tottenham.
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It's unfortunate that Arsene Wenger chose William Gallas over Toure in 2009, because, while the former has aged and withered away, the latter is still a strong, commanding presence in Manchester City's defence.
The two had a spat during the season before Toure's departure, and he declared that it would either be him or Gallas who would leave Arsenal. A stalwart of the Gunners' defence was sold to City in the same summer as Emmanuel Adebayor, and Arsenal have been groping at the back for years.
You can't help but think that many of Arsenal's problems with defensive solidity and leadership would not exist if the Ivorian still played in defence for the club.
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What probably ticked Arsenal fans off most about the Samir Nasri saga a year ago was the fact that he dragged the drama on for so long in an attempt to maximize the amount of money he would make in a move to Manchester City.
It was also extraordinarily presumptuous of Nasri to claim that he deserved a monster contract after one good patch in his entire tenure with the club, followed by a conspicuous disappearance when the going got tough.
All summer, supporters waited for a deal to be done one way or another, but nothing got done for weeks and weeks until he was sold after the Premier League season had already started.
At least Arsenal got a good financial return for Nasri, but he will always be remembered as another money-hungry mercenary.
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We all knew it was coming at some point, but seeing Cesc Fabregas finally go to Barcelona was like a collective punch in the gut for the entire Arsenal fanbase.
In the transfer saga that dominated the summer, many supporters held out hope until the last day, and when Fabregas did go, his initial £29 million transfer fee was regarded as appallingly low.
Nevertheless, we paid our respects to the man who defined Arsene Wenger's beautiful but trophyless footballing style for some many years and who had contributed so much to Arsenal at such a young age.
One wishes that the club handled the situation better last summer, rather than leaving it late to get a deal done and acquire replacements. The drama that had been building up for years and which climaxed last August only made a transfer more difficult and more painful.
Robin van Persie
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You could argue that I shouldn't put Robin van Persie on this list because he's still technically an Arsenal player and has not officially left the club yet.
In fact, many still hold out some hope that the captain will have a change of heart and sign a new deal. Those who do are merely setting themselves up for disappointment; Van Persie has burned his bridges at the club, closed every door, and there is no recourse now for a player who made his decision to leave some time ago.
So, now that he is unofficially gone, let's recover and look at what his decision means for Arsenal and its fans.
Obviously, the most gutting aspect of this whole situation is that a player who appeared to genuinely love the club and was seemingly above the debauchery of modern footballers succumbed to the lure of petro-dollars like so many else. How can Arsenal feel secure about the future of any of its players now?
Perhaps the Gunners just need a fresh blueprint, but it will be hard to draw one up after this fiasco.