All these men have something in common other than being former Arsenal players. Arsene Wenger has let all of them go to clubs that were direct threats to the Gunners in the English Premier League via the transfer or free market. Fabregas is the latest as he’s joined Chelsea.
Some may wonder why I included Fabregas with the footballers mentioned above since he’s been at Barcelona for the last three seasons. It’s because Arsenal put in his transfer deal that if the Catalonia-based club wanted to move for the 27-year-old, the Gunners had first refusal. Meaning they would be the first club allowed to negotiate a transfer fee with the club and a contract with the player before any other team could be contacted. When it was first reported that the 2010 World Cup winner would leave the Blaugrana, it was said that he only wanted to play in England. Arsenal have bigger needs elsewhere but being able to replace Mikel Arteta with a world-class player who also has history with the club would’ve been a huge gain. Instead, Gunners fans around the world are left to question why Wenger would let one of his former pupils go to a rival team.
The Blues reportedly signed the two-time European Champion for a fee in the region of £26-30 million. When the North London club moved the 2007-08 PFA Young Player of the Year to his boyhood club, the transfer fee was £35million with an additional £5 million if incentives were reached. Looking back, Arsenal could have asked for more. Fabregas only wanted to go to Barcelona. The club of his youth had been very interested in him, so the Gunners could have requested more and likely still had the same result. A similar situation happened with Tottenham Hotspur negotiating with Real Madrid over Gareth Bale’s transfer fee a few seasons back. Wenger unfortunately did the same thing a year later as he let Van Persie go to Manchester United for only £22.5million, with £1.5million in incentives if United won a Premier League or Champions League title within the next four years, after the Netherlands international won the Premier League Golden Boot and single-handily guaranteed Arsenal Champions League football for the next campaign. Manchester United won the league title the next season and Van Persie won the golden boot again.