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The Wenger Curse: Alexis joins Petit and Adebayor in struggling after leaving Arsenal

16:00 GMT+3 26/09/2018
Alexis Sanchez Manchester United 2018-19
Goal takes a look at 10 Arsenal stars who never hit the same heights after leaving the Gunners.

When Kieran Gibbs left Arsenal for West Brom after spending over 11 seasons at the club, he remarked that he would learn how to improve defensively at his new team. Arsene Wenger was asked about those comments shortly after and made an apt statement which has rung true of several players after they departed north London for pastures new.

“Once someone takes the decision to leave I wish them well and focus on my squad, but just look at the performances of the players who left us and then come back to me about it,” he said in 2017.

Goal takes a look at 10 Arsenal stars who never hit the same heights after leaving the Gunners.

  • Emmanuel Petit Arsenal

    Emmanuel Petit

    Petit joined Arsenal from Monaco in 1997 after working with Wenger when the Frenchman was manager of the Ligue 1 side. The magnificent partnership between Petit and Patrick Vieira saw him make 85 appearances in three years before deciding to join Barcelona in the summer of 2000.

    However, an injury-plagued spell coupled with poor performances saw him eventually return to the Premier League with Chelsea. Three seasons later, Petit retired from professional football.

  • Alex Song - FC Barcelona

    Alex Song

    Arsenal's search for a defensive midfielder was eventually narrowed down to Cameroonian star Song. He initially struggled at the heart of the Gunners midfield before being sent on loan to Charlton where he honed his defensive qualities.

    In the 2011/12 season he formed an exquisite partnership with Robin van Persie when he recorded 13 assists. 

    At the end of the season he joined Barcelona but struggled to get past Sergio Busquets in the team. 

    Following two disappointing campaigns with Barcelona he had mixed spells at West Ham and Russian side Rubin Kazan. He now plays for FC Sion in the Swiss Super League.

  • Patrick Vieira Arsenal 2005

    Patrick Vieira

    Vieira won three Premier League trophies and four FA Cup titles during his nine-year stay at Arsenal, captaining the club through the 49-game unbeaten season and making over 400 appearances for the Gunners.

    He left for Juventus in July 2005 after Wenger accepted that he would need to let the Frenchman go in order for Cesc Fabregas to become the new mainstay of Arsenal's midfield.

    Interestingly, Vieira returned to Highbury a year later when Juventus faced Arsenal in the quarter-finals of the Champions League and was culpable for one of Arsenal's goals after Robert Pires tackled him and helped set up Fabregas to score.

    Spells at Inter and Manchester City followed but Vieira's quality began to diminish towards the latter stages of his career.

  • Hleb, Arsenal

    Alexander Hleb

    An exciting pass master with the ability to create something out of nothing, Hleb was part of an impressive Arsenal team which almost won the Premier League in the 2007/08 season.

    When Barcelona came calling the Belarusian couldn't say no - but it was a decision that he came to regret as he failed to impress at Camp Nou.

    “At some point, I realised, ‘Oh God! I’m leaving Arsenal!’ When Arsene said that it was a matter of hours, I felt devastated. It was really hard for me to accept. He even texted me as I was fishing. ‘Alex, I won’t let you go, we need you here’. I cried when I read it.”

    Hleb has since admitted that he regrets ever leaving Arsenal. Three loan spells with Stuttgart, Birmingham and Wolfsburg later, he is now back in his homeland playing for BATE Borisov.

  • Emmanuel Adebayor

    Emmanuel Adebayor

    Adebayor joined from Monaco in 2005 and went on to become the main man at Arsenal following Thierry Henry's exit and injuries to Robin van Persie.

    He scored 46 goals in four seasons for Arsenal, before joining Manchester City for £25m in 2009.

    He did score against the Gunners in the Premier League, subsequently running the full length of the pitch to celebrate in front of the Arsenal fans, but eventually fell down the pecking order before being loaned out to Real Madrid and Tottenham.

    He now plays for Turkish outfit İstanbul Başakşehir.

  • Gael Clichy Arsenal

    Gael Clichy

    Clichy made 187 appearances for Arsenal after succeeding Ashley Cole as the club's first-choice left-back.

    The Frenchman said he left Arsenal to join City in 2009 because he wanted to win trophies, although two years beforehand he was quoted as saying "I really think if you are a player who thinks only about money then you could end up at Manchester City."

    Clichy won two league titles and two League Cups during his time at the Etihad but never exceeded the quality he showed at Arsenal, eventually losing his place to Aleksandr Kolarov in the City team.

    He now plays in the same team as his former Arsenal team-mate Adebayor, İstanbul Başakşehir.


    William Gallas

    Gallas joined Arsenal in a swap deal which saw Ashley Cole head to Stamford Bridge for £5m in 2006.

    After giving him the number 10 shirt vacated by the recently-retired Dennis Bergkamp, Gallas was confirmed as Arsenal captain in the summer of 2007.

    He famously threw a tantrum at the end of Arsenal's 2-2 draw against Birmingham in 2008, where he cried on the pitch and kicked the advertising hoardings after the Gunners conceded a late penalty.

    After joining Tottenham in 2010 and initially impressing, injuries got the better of Gallas and in 2013 he signed for Australian side Perth Glory.

  • David Bentley

    David Bentley

    Bentley started his career at Arsenal but struggled to break through into the first team despite being earmarked as the 'next David Beckham' due to his penchant for set-piece taking.

    Following loan spells at Norwich and Blackburn, the Englishman joined Rovers in January 2006. Bentley joined Tottenham in 2008, before further loan spells with Birmingham, West Ham, Rostov and a return to Blackburn before being released by Spurs in 2013.

    Bentley then announced his retirement in 2014 after revealing he lost his passion for the game. He now lives in Spain where he manages his own restaurant business.

  • Mathieu Flamini Arsenal

    Mathieu Flamini

    Flamini replaced Gilberto as Arsenal's key defensive midfielder in the 2007/08 season. His performances were solid and he formed a partnership with Cesc Fabregas which looked like one capable of winning the league.

    With his contract expiring at the end of the season, an approach from AC Milan saw Flamini make the move from London to Italy. Flamini never became first choice at the Italian giants and suffered a number of niggly injuries which halted his progress. 

    He returned to Arsenal but didn't manage to impress, before joining Crystal Palace and Getafe.

  • Alexis Sanchez Arsenal

    Alexis Sanchez

    Sanchez scored 80 goals in 166 appearances for Arsenal after joining from Barcelona in 2014.

    His best season came in the 2016/17 campaign when he scored 30 goals in 51 games. However, with his contract expiring at the end of last season, Sanchez opted to join Manchester United in January which saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan go the other way.

    The Chilean has scored three goals in 23 appearances for United and continues to underwhelm at Old Trafford, where recent reports suggest he could be sold if his poor form continues.