Alexis & the Arsenal stars who left to join bigger clubs

The Chilean has joined Manchester United, which makes him the latest in a long line of players to leave north London in search of trophies

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    Nicolas Anelka to Real Madrid | 1999

    Nicolas Anelka followed Arsene Wenger into Arsenal in 1997, signing from Paris Saint-Germain at just 17 years of age. Wenger would use him sparingly during his first season in the Premier League, but an impressive second season and a prolific third saw him gain interest from Real Madrid in 1999.

    Anelka made no effort to hide his intentions to leave Arsenal, and indeed England, admitting he had struggled to settle in London, before joining Real in a deal worth around £22 million.

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    Ashley Cole to Chelsea | 2006

    A lot of Arsenal fans have still not forgiven Ashley Cole for the way in which he left the club. A graduate from the Arsenal academy, Cole was tipped to become the club captain having helped the Gunners to three FA Cups and two Premier League titles.

    However, after nearly crashing his car in shock at being offered a new contract worth £55,000 per week, he left for London rivals Chelsea and enjoyed even more success. The left-back would win four FA Cups, a Premier League title, a League Cup, the Europa League, and in 2011-12 was part of the Blues side to lift the Champions League trophy. 

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    Emmanuel Adebayor to Manchester City | 2009

    Emmanuel Adebayor spent four seasons at Arsenal but failed to win a trophy, though he did pick up a place in the 2007-08 PFA Premier League Team of the Season, having struck 24 league goals in 36 games. Then, upon leaving for Manchester City, Gunners fans turned on the Togo international in a feud which would play out in front of those at the Etihad in 2009.

    As well as being accused of stamping on Robin van Persie's face, Adebayor scored against his former club and ran the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of the travelling support, much to their anger. Adebayor would also go on to play for Tottenham, Arsenal's north London rivals.

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    Kolo Toure to Manchester City | 2009

    Another player to build his reputation at Arsenal, Kolo Toure signed from local club ASEC Mimosas in 2002. The defender would go on to play well over 300 games for the Gunners and was a major part of the club's 2003-04 Premier League title campaign in which the Gunners remained unbeaten.

    The trophies would soon disappear at Arsenal, however, and so would Toure, as he moved to Manchester City in 2009. Toure would have to settle for a bit-part role at the Etihad, though did pick up another Premier League winners' medal in 2011-12.

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    Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona | 2011

    Born in Barcelona, a boyhood fan and a product of La Masia, it was always going to be difficult for Arsene Wenger to stop Cesc Fabregas from re-joining the Liga giants when they came calling in 2011.

    "We have lost a world-class player," Wenger said on his departure. "We are sad because we tried to keep him."

    The Spain international would go on to win two Spanish cups, a Copa del Rey and the 2011-12 top-flight title at Camp Nou, having won only the FA Cup with Arsenal during his eight-year spell in the Premier League.

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    Samir Nasri to Manchester City | 2011

    While Samir Nasri's performances in his three full seasons at Arsenal made him a favourite with supporters, the France international struggled to retain fitness and failed to win silverware and he was left with a tough decision when Manchester City make an offer to sign him.

    Nasri would sign a long-term deal at the Etihad club and pick up two Premier League titles and a League Cup.

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    Gael Clichy to Manchester City | 2011

    Gael Clichy established himself at Arsenal after joining from Cannes. The France international was part of the Gunners squad which won the 2003-04 Premier League title, albeit as a bit-part player, and helped Arsene Wenger's side to the 2004-05 FA Cup.

    Once a first-team regular, however, Clichy didn't add to his trophy collection until he left for Manchester City in 2011. Two Premier League titles, two League Cups and the 2012 Community Shield were to follow.

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    Robin van Persie to Manchester United | 2012

    Robin van Persie spent eight years with Arsenal, scoring 132 goals in his 277 appearances. To lose him to Manchester United, then direct Premier League rivals, was difficult to take for supporters.

    Even worse for the Gunners, United would win the 2012-13 league title with Van Persie scoring 26 goals in 30 games. "It's never great to lose players of that quality," Wenger conceded. "But he only had a year left on his contract, so we do not have a choice."

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    Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United | 2018

    Alexis Sanchez made his intentions very clear to Arsenal in the summer of 2017. The Chile international refused to sign a new contract at the Emirates in light of interest in his services elsewhere, with Manchester City seen as the likeliest destination.

    Now, in the January window, with City having pulled out of a deal, Manchester United picked up the attacker as part of a swap deal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

    Alexis turns 30 later this year and a move to a Champions League club was a must, with United also likely to challenge City for the 2018-19 league crown.