Ranking Arsenal Players Sold to Barcelona on Their Impact at Camp Nou
The relationship between Arsenal and Barcelona runs deep. Before Thomas Vermaelen and Alexis Sanchez swapped shirts and stadiums this summer, there was already a lot of history between the two European giants.
Over the years, several players have made their way from Arsenal to Camp Nou. Some enjoyed storied careers at Barcelona that are still remembered today; others were utter disappointments.
In this article, we rank the Arsenal players who joined Barcelona based on their impact at the Camp Nou outfit. As always, feel free to get involved in the discussion in the comments section below.
Number 8: Thomas Vermaelen
Thomas Vermaelen is the latest Arsenal star to make the switch to Barcelona. The center-back is expected to play a significant role this season and could even compete for a regular place in the lineup.
However, the 28-year-old has yet to play an official match for La Blaugrana and thus not had the chance to make an impact at the club.
Vermaelen ranks last in our list, though he will have plenty of chances to climb the ladder over the coming years.
Number 7: Emmanuel Petit
Emmanuel Petit was an absolute star during his time at Monaco before making the switch to Arsenal. He spent a few years at the English club and eventually joined Barcelona in 2000.
Despite being a star footballer with an already rich career, Petit was unable to replicate the same success at Camp Nou. He struggled to find his place in the squad and was rarely in the starting lineup.
After just one season at Barcelona, it was time for Petit to leave. The French midfielder made his way back to England, joining Arsenal's London rivals Chelsea.
For Petit, his time at Barcelona will always been seen as a failure and full of thoughts of what could have been.
Number 6: Alexander Hleb
Like Petit, Alex Hleb’s time at Barcelona was full of disappointment as well.
The attack-minded player joined from Arsenal in 2008 and was expected to make an instant impact at Camp Nou. He had the pedigree of a capable player, but no one foresaw what would actually take place.
Hleb was unable to find regular playing time at the Catalan club and was soon relegated to the bench. He was a part of the treble-winning team of 2008-09, though he played little part in the team’s success.
After a few loan spells at other clubs, Hleb finally departed Catalonia in 2012, when he and the club mutually agreed to cancel his contract. Hleb would join Krylia Sovetov Samara.
Number 5: Alex Song
Alex Song is still something of a new face at Barcelona. After spending several years at Arsenal and cementing his place as the rock in the club’s midfield, he left to join the Catalan giants in 2012.
At the time, it was clear that Song would deputize as both a defensive midfielder and center-back with his new club. However, the Cameroon international has yet to find consistent playing time in the Blaugrana shirt.
In his time at Camp Nou, Song has been able to put together a few stellar performances. However, the few games he performed well in don't counteract his many subpar matches.
Song is still trying to find his footing at the club, though sitting behind Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano could likely see the 26-year-old move on in the near future.
Number 4: Marc Overmars
Marc Overmars was already a star at Ajax before moving to Arsenal in 1997. Though he had a history of injuries, the Gunners took a chance on him that paid off big time. Overmars immediately lit up the English league and scored tons of goals in his time under Arsene Wenger.
In 2000, Overmars and teammate Emmanuel Petit left Arsenal to join Barcelona in what was then seen as a massive move from the Catalans. As stated earlier, Petit’s career in Catalonia would not pan out as expected, but Overmars had a bit more success.
The Dutch winger stayed at Barcelona until 2004, despite struggling to keep a regular place in the squad. Though he was not a steady face in the starting lineup, Overmars was a fan favorite and the type of player who left everything on the pitch.
He will always be remembered as one of the fastest players to ever pull on the Blaugrana shirt. However, you can’t help but wonder why his form didn’t properly carry over to Spain.
Number 3: Cesc Fabregas
The long-lost son Cesc Fabregas returned home to Barcelona in the summer of 2011 and the world waited to see what brilliance would come from the move.
After leaving his boyhood club as a teenager, Fabregas was a star in England and one of the best Arsenal players of his generation. His ability in the midfield was undeniable and his return to Barcelona was seen as a stunning move.
When Fabregas returned to Catalonia, many assumed he was Xavi's heir apparent. After a few months, it was clear that wasn’t the case. He was his own player, and a new midfielder brought in to help the club become even better.
Fabregas definitely had his moments during his three years at Barcelona, winning a couple of titles and scoring in El Clasico. However, he certainly wasn’t the star he had been at Arsenal.
When the Masia product left to join Chelsea this summer, fans were sad that such a talented home-grown player was not able to replicate his success. Fabregas will always be remembered at Camp Nou, but he could have achieved so much more.
Number 2: Giovanni van Bronckhorst
Giovanni van Bronckhorst is a Barcelona legend. Growing up at his boyhood Feyenoord, the Dutch defender eventually made his way to Arsenal via Rangers in 2001. After a few seasons in England, he was loaned to Barcelona in 2003, eventually signing on a permanent basis the following year.
When “Gio,” as he was affectionately known, arrived at Barcelona, he was transformed from a central midfielder to a left-back and flourished. His first two seasons at the Catalan club saw Barcelona win consecutive La Liga titles as well as the 2006 Champions League trophy.
Van Bronckhorst was a favorite of the Camp Nou crowd and a regular face in the lineup. His abilities saw him become one of the best players in Spain as Barcelona dominated domestic play during his tenure.
In 2007, the Dutch defender returned to Feyenoord, where he is now assistant manager.
To this day, Gio is still seen as one of the greatest Barcelona defenders in club history and a legend that brought immense success from the moment he first stepped foot on the Camp Nou pitch.
Number 1: Thierry Henry
Few names strike the same fear, respect and emotion as that of Thierry Henry. The Frenchman was already considered to be one of the greatest Arsenal players of all time when he transferred to Barcelona in 2007.
A player of Henry’s pedigree would not disappoint the Barca fans.
Henry joined Lionel Messi and Samuel Eto’o to form arguably the most prolific attacking trio the Spanish league has ever seen. Though all three were immensely talented individually, their ability to play together brought Barcelona unrivaled success.
Considered by many to be the greatest team ever, Henry was an integral part of the Barcelona side that won an unprecedented six trophies in 2009.
After winning so many titles in just a few years at Camp Nou, Henry left for the New York Red Bulls following the 2010 World Cup. He may still be viewed as an Arsenal legend first, but Barcelona fans will never forget the glory that the French striker brought to Camp Nou.
Which Arsenal players had the biggest impact at Camp Nou? Will Thomas Vermaelen be the next Arsenal star to succeed at Barcelona? Leave your thoughts and comments below.