When Arsène Wenger left Arsenal in the summer of 2018, he became the longest-serving manager in England’s top soccer division, the Premier League. Some of the greatest Arsenal players served under the Frenchman while many rued the opportunity.
He started his career at the London club in 1996 and has served a total of 22 years, breaking the record of Sir Alex Ferguson who was the Manchester United manager for 20 years. Considering that on average 6.2 managers were dismissed in the Premier League in the last decade, this is truly exceptional.
Wenger won three titles during his tenure at the club, in 1997–98, 2001–02 and 2003–04, seven FA Cups, but never won any European trophies. Having overseen a top club for 22 years, some might say the Frenchman could have done better.
The closest they got to a European cup victory was when Arsenal lost to Barcelona in the 2006 final, which turned out to be the only Champions League final for Arsène Wenger.
Wenger made some amazing signings at the Emirates, but also made some huge mistakes by letting go some of the best players he had at hand. Now let’s have a look at 5 Arsenal players, in specific, Wenger should never have sold while at Arsenal.
The Spaniard arrived in London in 2003 being a youth player at Barcelona at the time, sensing that he would have limited opportunities at Barcelona as a 16-year-old. Wenger did an amazing job turning Fabregas into one of the best Premier League midfielders, playing at the side of Arsenal for eight years.
In 2011, he returned to Barcelona. After he left London, the then Arsenal players clearly lacked creativity in the midfield like him.
Robin van Persie
The Dutch international became an Arsenal player in 2004 and scored a total of 132 goals for The Gunners. To the surprise of many, in 2012, Arsenal decided to sell the striker to one of its rivals, Manchester United.
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) July 5, 2015
In the 2012-13 season, Van Persie scored 26 league goals for the Reds, helping Ferguson reach his 13th and last league title. A prime reason why Van Persie left the Emirates, although being one of the best among Arsenal players at that time, is a Premier League title. A great move by Ferguson and a big miscalculation of Wenger.
The Chilean star player signed for Arsenal in 2014 after being deemed not needed anymore at Barcelona. During his time in London, Sanchez scored 60 goals in 122 Premier League appearances for Arsenal.
In 2018, the left winger was sold to Manchester United in a swap deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan move the opposite way. Ex-Arsenal player Robert Pires went on the record claiming “leaving Arsenal was Sanchez’s biggest mistake”. Many Arsenal fans will certainly agree with this statement.
Henry, Arsenal’s all-time record goalscorer and one of the greatest among Arsenal players of all time, spent a total of eight years at the club, winning two titles and three FA cups and leading the club to Champions League final.
In 2007, the French international was sold to Barcelona and many fans were sad to see “Titi” leave. Thierry scored an average of 28 league goals in his last five years in London and it goes without saying Arsenal was never able to find a striker that was so efficient.
Was the 16 million pounds Barcelona paid worth loosing one of the best strikers in the world? Another player, Wenger should probably have kept rather than being sold.
The Polish international was once heralded to be a future great goalkeeper, by Arsene Wenger. Signed in 2006 from Legia Warsaw, the goalkeeper joined the Arsenal academy as a promising talent.
After a few blunders in the league, Szczęsny had lost the confidence of his manager and was sent on a loan spell to Roma. Juventus on the other hand, did see a future for Szczesny and needed a new shot-stopper as Gianluigi Buffon was nearing retirement. Many will argue that selling Szczęsny was a big mistake by Wenger, now that Petr Cech nears the end of his career.
Should Wenger have kept these five Arsenal players on board instead of selling them, we are convinced that the manager with the longest career in the Premier League had won more than 3 titles. But of course, that is easy to say in hindsight.