They have been champions of the Premier League thrice besides winning 13 FA Cups and 15 FA Community Shields (known as the FA Charity Shield prior to 2002).
Arsenal are always one of the strongest performers of the Premier League and are a part of the famed 'Big Six'. In the ongoing 2018-19 edition, they are currently placed at 5th position - with 44 points from 23 games. They were also the 9th richest club in the World (in 2018) according to the latest data released by the Deloitte Football Money League.
Pat Rice, David Seaman, Ian Wright, Liam Brady, Robert Pires, Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, and Dennis Bergkamp are some of the legendary players who once represented Arsenal.
While many players bid adieu to the beautiful game at the Emirates Stadium, there are many who played elsewhere in the World before hanging their boots.
In this article, we will take a look at 5 former Arsenal players you won't believe are still playing:
Honourable mentions: Gael Clichy and José Antonio Reyes.
#5 Alexander Hleb
Aliaksandr Paulavich Hleb, more commonly known as Alexander Hleb, currently plays for Belarusian club BATE Borisov. It is his 5th stint with the club and he also won the Belarusian Premier League title with them in 2018.
The Minsk-born player has represented many clubs in his career. Dinamo-Juni Minsk, BATE Borisov, VfB Stuttgart, Barcelona, Birmingham City, VfL Wolfsburg, Krylia Sovetov Samara, Konyaspor, Genclerbirligi are the clubs (apart from Arsenal) which the Attacking Midfielder has played for.
He was with The Gunners from 2005 to 2008 and scored 10 goals in 130 appearances. Hleb signed for Barcelona on July 16, 2008, for a reported fee of £15.30 million. However, he did not get the same prominence with the Spanish giants.
As Hleb was at the pinnacle of his career, he spent 2009–10, 2010–11, and 2011–12 seasons on loan to VfB Stuttgart, Birmingham City, and VfL Wolfsburg, respectively.
Hleb is an extremely decorated footballer and also won the treble of LaLiga, Copa del Rey, and UEFA Champions League - with Barcelona - during the 2008–09 season.
#4 Nicklas Bendtner
Danish forward Nicklas Bendtner was a part of the senior Arsenal side from 2005 to 2014. During his stint with the club, Bendtner was loaned out to three other clubs - Birmingham City for the 2006–2007 season, Sunderland for the 2011–2012 season, and Juventus for the 2012–2013 season.
Overall, the versatile forward scored 45 goals in an overall 171 matches for Arsenal. However, Bendtner never really fulfilled his potential. His off-field antics and a fair share of injuries did not allow him to bring out his best on the field.
After being released by Arsenal, the Copenhagen-born player plied his trade with German club VfL Wolfsburg.
After an unsuccessful stint in Germany, the lanky striker made a return to England in 2016 and played for Nottingham Forest in the Championship for the 2016-17 season. He put pen to paper for Rosenborg Ballklub in March 2017 and is currently with the Norwegian top-flight club.
He has scored 35 goals in 81 appearances for Rosenborg and is an important cog in the team. Besides this, the 31-year-old also has 30 goals in 81 appearances for the national team.
#3 Emmanuel Adebayor
Togolese footballer Emmanuel Adebayor is known to represent some of the biggest clubs of the Premier League. The 34-year-old has plied his trade with Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, and Crystal Palace.
Monaco and Real Madrid are 2 of the other big clubs the strongly built striker has represented in his career.
Adebayor was with The Gunners from 2006 to 2009. The 34-year-old scored 62 goals in 142 appearances for Arsenal.
He was roped in by Manchester City in 2009 for a reported transfer fee of £25 million. Adebayor then went on to represent Real Madrid (on loan) for the 2010-11 season. After 4 seasons with the Spurs, he joined Crystal Palace ahead of the 2015–16 season.
Adebayor is currently with Turkish club İstanbul Başakşehir and is enjoying a good run - having scored 26 goals in 68 appearances thus far.
Although the forward could not win any title while at Arsenal, he did win the African Player of the Year award in 2008. Adebayor is also the top scorer for the national team - having scored 31 goals in 81 appearances for Togo.
#2 Bacary Sagna
French footballer Bacary Sagna currently plays for Montreal Impact, a Major League Soccer club. The 35-year-old plays majorly as a right back. The Sens-born player has represented France in two FIFA World Cups.
Sagna began his senior career in 2002 with French club Auxerre. He made an overall 121 appearances for Auxerre and was signed by The Gunners on July 12, 2007, for €12 million. He soon established himself as a first choice full back for Arsene Wenger. The 35-year-old represented Arsenal in 284 matches overall and also scored 5 goals.
The technically sound player moved to Manchester City ahead of the 2014–15 season and 3 seasons later to Serie A club Benevento.
The FA Cup trophy during the 2013–14 season is the only title Sagna won with Arsenal. Even though the French Right-Back is not at the top of his game anymore, 'Mr. Reliable' still brings in a lot of experience to Montreal Impact and the other players have a lot to learn from him.
#1 Robin van Persie
Robin van Persie is Arsenal's 8th highest goalscorer of all time. The legendary Dutch player scored 132 goals in 278 appearances for The Gunners. He was with the London-based club for 8 seasons (2004 to 2012).
The 35-year-old initially played the role of a supporting striker but soon became the main man up front after the departure of Thierry Henry and Emmanuel Adebayor. He won one FA Cup title and one FA Community Shield with Arsenal.
Prior to joining Arsenal, Robin van Persie had represented Eredivisie club Feyenoord for three seasons - amassing 22 goals in 78 appearances.
The talented striker put pen to paper for Manchester United on August 17, 2012, for a transfer fee reported to be £27.63 million.
After three partially successful seasons with The Red Devils, the Flying Dutchman signed for Turkish club Fenerbahçe S.K ahead of the 2015–16. He is currently back with his boyhood club Feyenoord and has scored 19 goals in 34 appearances (so far) for them in his second stint.
Robin Van Persie is still an integral part of the national team and is Netherlands' all-time top goalscorer with 50 goals in 102 appearances. Besides this, the veteran striker has multiple individual honours to his name.
Which other former Arsenal stars do you know who are still active footballers? Do share your opinions in the comments section below.