Did Bacary Sagna and Company Perform Better for Arsenal or Manchester City?
The path from Arsenal to Manchester City has been a relatively well-trodden one over the past few years. That can be attributed to the fact that City's emergence as a financial superpower coincided with a period of enforced parsimony for the Gunners.
The Manchester outfit have spent millions luring the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor and Samir Nasri north—although they did at least manage to pinch Bacary Sagna on a free transfer.
However, what kind of value have they extracted from their investment in talent from north London? Gunners manager Arsene Wenger is revered for his ability to bring the best out of players—have any of those players managed to hit the heights they managed in red and white at the Etihad Stadium?
This isn't about trophy haul—City have bested Arsenal in that respect. This is about the individual performance level of each player. Have they been the force they were in red and white?
Our list takes in all the players who moved directly from Arsenal to Manchester City since 2009: Adebayor, Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy, Nasri and Sagna. Brazilian full-back Sylvinho, who represented both clubs with distinction, is not included, as he played for Celta Vigo and Barcelona in between.
It was Adebayor who became the first high-profile player to switch between Arsenal and the new-look Manchester City back in 2009. He started brilliantly, scoring in four consecutive league matches—the last of which was against his former club.
That incident has become infamous, as Adebayor followed up his strike by running the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of the furious Arsenal fans. He was later found guilty of an act of violent conduct in the same game, raking his studs across then-Arsenal attacker Robin van Persie's face.
His final record with Manchester City was pretty good—15 goals in 34 league appearances. However, given that he scored 46 Premier League goals in his time with Arsenal, it's difficult to argue that he surpassed his time in north London.
Things began to fall apart over the course of his second season in Manchester. The arrival of Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tevez saw Adebayor fall out of favour, and he never seemed to regain Roberto Mancini's faith, who ultimately sanctioned loan moves to Real Madrid and then Tottenham Hotspur.
Ultimately, Adebayor's story will always be one of unfulfilled potential. The manner in which his career has subsequently petered out—he is currently playing for Istanbul Basaksehir in Turkey—suggests that his decision to leave Arsenal didn't pay dividends.
Verdict: Adebayor showed initial promise at City, but he never replicated the 30 goals he managed in a single season at Arsenal back in 2007/08.
Just a few weeks after Adebayor arrived at Manchester City, Ivorian defender Toure followed him north. The presence of William Gallas effectively forced Toure out of Arsenal, with Arsene Wenger seemingly preferring to field the Frenchman.
However, that should not be allowed to detract from Toure's remarkable achievements with Arsenal. In 2003/04, he was an integral part of the team that managed to win the Premier League title without suffering a single defeat.
Few could have anticipated that kind of impact from Toure, who joined the club as a promising utility player from Ivorian academy ASEC Mimosas.
After initially starting out as a winger, Wenger repurposed the powerful player as a centre-half. Alongside Sol Campbell, he formed a superb partnership. Toure boasted speed and power, combined with impressive footballing ability—he could bring the ball out of the defence with ease and was often an effective weapon on the counter-attack.
Although Toure won another league title with City, he was never quite the same player he had been at Arsenal. As his pace began to go, he became more vulnerable to nimble attackers. Toure was somewhat overshadowed by the performances of his younger brother Yaya, who arrived later and was a true star in Manchester.
He also suffered a six-month suspension for failing a drug test, which cast an unfortunate shadow over his time at the Etihad Stadium.
Verdict: Toure has enjoyed a good career in Britain with spells at City, Liverpool and Celtic. However, the unbeaten season with Arsenal remains the undoubted high point of his career.
Clichy was sold partly to allow Arsenal to blood promising youngster Kieran Gibbs. Manchester City were the grateful recipients of Clichy, who has been a good servant to his new club for the past five-and-a-half years.
When Clichy broke through at Arsenal, he was an exciting young talent. However, he was also vulnerable both physically and defensively. He suffered a succession of injury problems and was guilty of some suspect positional play.
He has improved with time. Although he is still capable of producing the odd piece of poor defending, he's largely a solid player—and his ability to deliver a cross from wide positions has improved dramatically.
Clichy has won two league titles and two FA Cups with City, so he will feel he was justified in his decision to leave Arsenal.
Verdict: Clichy is not the perfect full-back, with the defensive side of his game still deserving of scrutiny. However, he has improved a little in that respect since leaving Arsenal.
It's easy to forget now, but Nasri's career at Manchester City started rather well. After all, he racked up three assists in his league debut against former rivals Tottenham. He went on to claim the league title in his first season.
Perhaps his high point came in 2014, when he was named as man of the match after scoring in the Capital One Cup final victory over Sunderland. In that game, Nasri's dazzling performance was reminiscent of the spellbinding football he occasionally provided at Arsenal when working in connection with Cesc Fabregas and Jack Wilshere.
However, he did not remain in favour at City. Last summer, he was sent out on loan to Sevilla with the consent of Pep Guardiola, who seemingly does not see him as part of his plans.
Verdict: Nasri's best performances for City probably matched his Arsenal highlights. His top form at both clubs existed over quite fleeting periods, but those displays were roughly of the same calibre. It's a draw.
When debates are had about the best Arsenal XI of Wenger's reign, Sagna's name will come up. That a player who never won the Premier League with the Gunners is seen as a credible rival to the highly decorated Lauren and Lee Dixon tells you everything you need to know about the quality of his performances at the Emirates Stadium.
Sagna was a superb defender for Arsenal, dominant in the air and doggedly determined in one-on-ones. Few fans could begrudge him when he took the opportunity to join City after seeing out his Arsenal contract.
While Sagna has continued to impress at City, he's lost half a yard of pace. His experience is important to Guardiola, but he's not quite at the same level he managed at Arsenal.
Verdict: Sagna is still an able defender. However, it remains the case that Arsenal had him in his prime. It's just a shame they didn't surround him with a team more capable of challenging for silverware.
All stats via Soccerbase.