The Gunners are known for their faith in young talent and the development of such players. From Cesc Fàbregas and Robin van Persie a few years ago to Bukayo Saka today, the club from Highbury has always believed in their philosophy regarding young players.
Arsene Wenger, Le Professeur, deserves a lot of credit for Arsenal’s reputation, as the Frenchman had a shrewd understanding of a player’s potential. Unfortunately, Arsenal is also known for the mismanagement of these young players.
The Gunners are famous for fiascos in the transfer market and the club have sold their best players on multiple occasions only to regret it later.
Let us take a look at five such players that Arsenal will regret selling.
Honourable Mention: Harry Kane
An eight-year-old kid from Walthamstow, London, named Harry joined the Arsenal academy in 2001. But Kane was released after just one season for being chubby. (Yes, you read that right!)
Cut to 2020, the same Harry Kane is the best striker in North London and is currently the deadliest English striker in the league. Although Arsenal did not technically sell Kane back in 2002, letting him go was a huge mistake. Kane has been reminding them about it every time his current and former clubs meet.
#5 Ashley Cole
Despite being an academy product and spending seven years with the first team, Ashely Cole is not the most loved person at Arsenal. But not even the Arsenal fans who waved fake notes at him after he left for Chelsea, can dispute Cole’s status as one of the finest left-backs in the league.
Cole joined the Arsenal academy in 1997 and made it to the first team within 2 years. He was part of ‘The Invincibles’ squad and made 228 appearances for Arsenal. But in 2005, Cole was involved in a controversial transfer saga and was fined for making contact with Chelsea without informing Arsenal.
The left-back eventually joined the Blues a year later after Arsenal’s defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League final. Since then Gael Clichy, Kieran Gibbs, Armand Traore and most recently Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac have all tried to cement themselves in the left-back spot but none of them came anywhere close to Cole.
#4 Wojciech Szczesny
"We have identified Wojciech as a future great, great goalkeeper," said Arsene Wenger in December 2009.
More than a decade later, Szczesny, still in his prime at 30, has won 3 consecutive league titles and was awarded the best goalkeeper in the league for 2019-20 season. But not at Arsenal, where he was supposed to be the future No. 1 for the Gunners.
Szczesny joined the Arsenal Academy in 2006 and was sent on loan to Brentford in the 2009-10 season. After his impressive performances for Brentford, Szczesny earned the spot of the first-choice goalkeeper at Arsenal. In the 2013-14 season, the Polish goalkeeper was jointly awarded the Premier League Golden Glove for keeping 16 clean sheets.
Unfortunately, it all went wrong for Szczesny from there. He was fined for smoking in the changing room in 2015 and dropped to the bench. Arsenal signed 33-year old Petr Cech in the summer and the Polish goalkeeper was sent on a loan to Roma. After two seasons in the Italian capital, Szczesny moved to Juventus in a permanent move in 2017.
Szczesny has become one of the most reliable goalkeepers in the world since moving to Italy. The story of Arsenal’s defence would have been a lot different if Szczesny had stayed at the club.