Season after season, it seems that Arsenal Football Club cannot seem to keep hold of their star players and at the start of the 2012/2013 season it was no different. The loss of Robin Van Persie and Alex Song opened up a big debate between football fans and pundits a like. Year after year for the previous 5 or 6 seasons, it seems that Arsenal cannot keep hold of their top players, this could be for any number of reasons, but it has still opened up the debate, are they just a feeder club and can they still be considered a top club?
Off the top of my head, I can think of a big player leaving Arsenal every year from 2005. Patrick Vieira, Ashley Cole, Robert Pires, Thierry Henry, Gael Clichy, Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and most recently, Robin Van Persie and Alex Song. Granted some of those players are a much bigger loss than others, but it still opens up a question, is Arsenal a middle team for a player to just make a name for themselves and then look for a move to another club. All of the above mentioned players would not be where they are today without the help of Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. I think everyone who is reading this will agree with me when I say before Arsenal, these footballers were average players who not many people had heard of, but after they left Arsenal, they all left a big hole in the Arsenal team and some still haven’t even been replaced.
So what has happened from the team that went 49 games unbeaten? And what are the reasons for the top players leaving Arsenal every year? Well, Robert Pires left because he was not happy that he got subbed in the Champions League final with Lehmann got sent off, so he can be forgiven. Why Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry left, I will never know, maybe they felt they had done all they could for Arsenal and wanted to move on, which they both did. Cesc Fabregas can also be forgiven from Arsenal fans because he always stated that he wanted to go back to his boyhood-club, Barcelona. But as for the others, MONEY!
Money came into the game when a Russian billionaire took over Chelsea FC and turned them from an average team into a world class team, just because of the money he injected into the transfer kitty. Ashley Cole, a footballer who seems to be hated by everyone around the football world and this is because he left Arsenal, when they were potentially the best football club in the world, to join Chelsea, who barely made the top 10 in the world. Why did he leave? Because he got greedy and didn’t like only being on 50k-a-week at Arsenal and jumped ship to Chelsea to double his wages. Can you blame Arsenal for his departure? I don’t think so no. Ashley Cole’s wage demands was a mockery to Arsene Wenger and he allowed him to leave.
Then a couple of years down the line saw Arsenal lose THREE massive players all in one transfer window and to make it worse, they all left Arsenal to go to the same club, newly mega-rich, Manchester City. Gael Clichy who became influential to Arsenal after Ashley Cole left the club did exactly the same as the man he replaced. Jumped ship and joined a developing team who had mega bucks to spend on player. Kolo Toure then did the exact same and then so did Emmanuel Adebayor. All agreeing to move to Man City because of the higher wages. To make it worse, Samir Nasri then did the exact same a couple of years later because of being offered more money. This was after he had one great season for Arsenal and became one of their most dangerous players.
Then came the summer of 2012 and probably the worst betrayal of an Arsenal player ever. It trumped all the others and turned him from a hero, to a zero in a matter of weeks. Robin Van Persie left Arsenal and joined…wait for it….Manchester United. Arsenal offered him a contract extension and was prepared to break the bank to keep him by offering him a contract worth 150k-a-week. However he chose to join United, who offered him….220k-a-week. A couple of days after that it was announced that Alex Song had left Arsenal because the club didn’t want to give him a pay rise.
So are we a feeder club? In my opinion, we haven’t had an option or any chance of keeping the players we have lost. All of them have massive egos and they wanted to double their pay packet and some even tripled their pay packet. The reason why we have been called a feeder club is because we have took unknown footballers and turned them into fantastic footballers, who then get to big for their boots and then move on. We spend the minimum for them and then sell them on for £20m+ on some occasions. I saw somewhere the other day we had brought 7 players for about £25m and then sold them on for £205m…..Incredible business by Arsenal.
The issues I have with Arsenal is that we always get praised for how we run our club. We aren’t in debt, we spend what we have, we play football the right way….bla bla bla. As a passionate fan of the club, I want to see trophies, I don’t want to hear how we are making profits.
Are we a feeder club? I think if you look at it, you have to say that we are. But I think the criticism that Arsene Wenger and the board get is very harsh on their parts, because they do not want to lose their top players, but nor do they want to give them more money than what they deserve, which is fair enough.
We are still a big club with big opportunities, and even though everyone questions us, we always prove them wrong. Players come and go, but the name lives forever. AFC.
Alex William Batt