Patrick Vieira – 1996-2005
Now an ambassador for Manchester City
Emmanuel Adebayor – 2006-2009
Two months after leaving Arsenal he ran the length of the pitch to celebrate a goal he scored against them in front of his former fans. He now plays for hated rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Jose Antonio Reyes – 2004-2006
Reyes was fooled by a radio prank and admitted he wanted to leave Arsenal just a year after joining the club. He said: “I wish I was playing for Real Madrid. Hopefully it could happen. I’m not happy with the way things are. If I’m not playing for Real I’m going to have to carry on playing with some bad people.”
Five months later he signed a six year deal but the following season refused to play in a Champions League game for fear he would be cup-tied and prevented from joining Real Madrid. He was loaned to the Spanish club a month later before joining their rivals, Atlético Madrid, the following year.
Thierry Henry – 1999-2007
“At one point it crossed my mind to leave,” he said in the summer of 2006. “But I think with my heart and my heart told me to stay. I’ve never played in Spain and never will. This is my last contract.”
The following summer he was parading around the Nou Camp in a Barcelona shirt. “It has been a long chase but I’m finally here and happy to be here and I can’t wait to go out there and show what I can do,” he said. “It is incredible. I am looking forward to playing in the Camp Nou and helping the team in every way I can. Barcelona are a wonderful club steeped in tradition and play beautiful football. I’m sure I will be very happy here.”
Arsenal recently unveiled a statue of Henry outside the Emirates and he then joined them on loan from NY Red Bulls, scoring 3 goals in 7 games.
Samir Nasri – 2008-2011
Two months after signing a contract extension with Marseille, Nasri signed for Arsenal. He was seen kissing Arsenal’s badge after scoring goals against Tottenham Hotspur and dismissed rumours linking him away from the club.
“There is not much to say apart from don’t listen to all the rumours and everything that is written or said,” he said in June 2011. “In terms of talent, I feel we had the best squad of the whole league. We played the best football. We were the best team, even if Manchester United had a good season too. We have improved so much. If the boss adds some good players, I really believe a trophy will be won.”
Two months later he signed for Manchester City. He said: “It is a big relief. It was a long negotiation and discussion between the two clubs and now I am finally a City player. That is what I wanted from the start. I’m really happy. I was a little bit frustrated because I said to the manager I wanted to leave. I stayed for the whole pre-season, but I wanted to do the pre-season with Manchester City.”
Cesc Fabregas – 2003-2011
“Why would I want to leave?” he asked in January 2011. “It is fantastic here. It would be a dream to lift trophies for Arsenal. It has always been my wish. Afterwards you can always be attracted by something else, like a new objective, or new challenges because, for me, life is all about challenges. But my real challenge as captain of Arsenal is to bring this football club success.”
After captaining the club for three years and winning just the one trophy in 2005, Fabregas left Arsenal for the club he really loved, Barcelona.
Sol Campbell – 2001-2006
Featured in full on Kissed The Badge.
Ashley Cole – 1997-2006
After coming through the ranks at Arsenal, Cole talked to Chelsea about a move behind his club’s back. Cole and Chelsea were later charged and fined for breaking Premier League rules on tapping up after the move was finalised.
In 2009, Cole showed there was no love lost, speaking about Manchester City: “I don’t know about breaking into the top four, that’s hard to say. I hope they do it. I hope they do really well – and that they finish above Arsenal.”