Arsenal were once one of the most feared teams in Europe but over the years, they’ve become a spent force.
The Gunners went through a long trophy barren spell under Arsene Wenger and as a result, they lost several key players to rival clubs. For example, Kolo Toure, Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Adebayor, Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy joined rivals Manchester City in recent years.
Arsenal have not just sold their players to Manchester City. A player has left Arsenal to play for one of Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester United in the last one year!
The Gunners have sold a plethora of players in recent years and we can name a squad, let alone a starting XI. Some of the players were sold because they no longer wanted to be at Arsenal and others because Arsenal deemed them not good enough.
So here is an Arsenal XI featuring only players they’ve sold/released and are currently active. Also, certain players have been preferred above others because of the quality of the team and league they play in.
Goalkeeper - Wojciech Szczesny (Juventus)
Wojciech Szczęsny is a product of the Arsenal academy and the Pole made his debut in September 2009. During his debut season, Wenger had big things to say about the player.
"We have identified Wojciech as a future great, great goalkeeper.”
"I really believe in him that he will one day be Arsenal's number one. He has all the qualities you want from a goalkeeper."
Szczesny became Arsenal's first choice goalkeeper during the 2010/11 season and went on to play 181 games of the club. In 2013/14, he shared the Premier League Golden Glove with Petr Cech.
The Pole made a few high profile mistakes during the 2014/15 season and was later caught smoking in the dressing room. He was first dropped for David Ospina and later loaned to AS Roma for two consecutive seasons.
At Roma, he became one of the best keepers in the Serie A and his performance earned him a permanent move to Juventus before the 2017/18 season. He’s now Juventus’ first-choice goalkeeper following the departure of Gianluigi Buffon.
Honourable mention: Łukasz Fabiański (West Ham)
Full-backs - Bacary Sagna (Montreal Impact) and Kieran Gibbs (West Brom)
Bacary Sagna joined Arsenal in 2007 from Ligue 1 side Auxerre and played 284 games for Arsenal across seven seasons.
Sagna’s years at Arsenal coincided with Arsenal’s barren period and the only trophy he won with Arsenal was in his final game for the club which was a 3-2 win over Hull City in the 2014 FA Cup final.
Although Arsenal offered Sagna a contract extension, the Frenchman opted against signing it and left the Gunners on a free transfer to join rivals Manchester City.
His performance level dropped massively at City and in three seasons, he played 86 times before being released. He was without a club for the first half of the 2017/18 season before joining Serie A relegation favourites Benevento on a six-month deal.
He joined MLS club, Montreal Impact in the summer for the remainder of the 2018 season with an option for another year.
Kieran Gibbs is the second of four Arsenal academy products in this XI.
The Englishman played 230 games for the club across 10 seasons but was never able to establish himself as the first choice left-back. He spent most of his Arsenal career as a backup to Gael Clichy or Nacho Monreal.
He won the FA Cup and Community shield twice each before leaving the Gunners last summer to join West Brom. He was part of the West Brom squad that were relegated at the end of the 2017/18 season but remains with the club to try and help them return to the English top tier.
Honourable mention: Mathieu Debuchy (Saint-Étienne) and Gaël Clichy (İstanbul Başakşehir)
Centre-backs - Gabriel Paulista (Valencia), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona)
Gabriel Paulista joined Arsenal in January 2015 from Villarreal and many hoped that the Brazilian would steady the Arsenal defence.
He got his Arsenal career off to a brilliant start but was never able to cement his place in the starting XI. His difficulty in following English was one major factor behind his rugged form.
In two and a half seasons with the club, he played 64 games and won the FA Cup twice before joining Valencia in August 2017. The 27-year-old is reunited with his former Villarreal manager Marcelino and is once again performing to the best of his abilities.
Thomas Vermaelen’s career hasn’t gone exactly according to plan after leaving Arsenal to join Barcelona. The Belgian was the Arsenal captain when he departed ahead of the 2014/15 season but at Barcelona, he played just once in his debut season due to injury concerns.
Injuries have severely hampered Vermaelen’s post-Arsenal career and he even spent the 2016/17 season on loan at Roma but played just 12 games overall.
The 32-year-old is still contracted to Barcelona but he’s now their fourth choice centre-back behind Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti and Clement Lenglet.
Midfielders - Jack Wilshere (West Ham), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool) and Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea)
Jack Wilshere, a product of the Arsenal youth system, made his professional debut for the club in 2008 after joining the youth system in 2001.
Wilshere showed a lot of promise during his initial days at Arsenal and became the club’s youngest debutant by breaking the record of Cesc Fabregas. However, Wilshere’s career was impeded by recurring injuries.
The 2010/11 season was a breakout season for him as he played 49 games across all competitions while earning rave reviews. The following season, he failed to play a single game as he was on the treatment table. This was the theme of Wilshere’s career.
He played 197 games for Arsenal before he was released at the end of the 2017/18 season. The 26-year-old joined West Ham in the summer with the hope of rejuvenating his career.
Like Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also left Arsenal after failing to realize his potential but Chamberlain seems to have found the perfect tutelage under Jurgen Klopp.
Chamberlain joined Arsenal from Southampton in 2011 and surprised a lot of people with his performance in his debut season. In fact, his debut season form earned him a place in England’s Euro 2012 squad.
Chamberlain played 198 games for Arsenal scoring 20 goals before joining Liverpool in the summer of 2017. After a slow settling in period at Liverpool, Chamberlain proved to be a game changer for the Reds in the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League.
Very few departing players would have hurt Arsenal fans like Cesc Fabregas. The Spaniard joined Arsenal in 2003 as a 16-year-old and went on to play 303 games for the club scoring 57 times. During his stint with Arsenal, he was named club captain and became a fan favourite.
Ahead of the 2011/12 season, Fabregas pushed for a move back to Barcelona and damaged his relationship with Arsenal fans in the process.
Fabregas got his move and was with Barcelona for three seasons during which he won six trophies. He scored 42 times in 151 games in Barcelona colours before joining Chelsea ahead of the 2014/15 season.
The move to Chelsea infuriated the Arsenal fans even more. Fabregas has won the Premier League twice, the FA Cup and League Cup once each with Chelsea and played 183 games so far.
Honourable mentions: Santi Cazorla (Villarreal), Francis Coquelin (Valencia), Oğuzhan Özyakup (Beşiktaş), Alex Song (FC Sion), Samir Nasri (Free agent) and Lassana Diarra (PSG)
Forwards - Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Alexis Sanchez (Manchester United) and Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich)
The three forwards in this XI left Arsenal for different reasons but they play for a top European club nevertheless.
Olivier Giroud joined Arsenal in 2012 as a replacement for Robin van Persie and throughout his Arsenal career, Giroud split opinion. Nevertheless, he still scored 105 goals in 253 games for the Gunners before joining Chelsea in January 2018.
The Frenchman left Arsenal in search of regular playing time as Arsenal had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Danny Welbeck as striking options.
Giroud won the FA Cup and Community Shield thrice each with Arsenal before winning the FA Cup again with Chelsea in his debut season. He also led the France attack at the 2018 FIFA World Cup which they won.
Alexis Sanchez also left Arsenal in January 2018 but he departed Arsenal because he wanted to join a club where he would be paid more and could also further his ambitions. However, that hasn’t worked out well for the Chilean.
Alexis played 166 games for Arsenal scoring 80 goals winning the FA Cup twice. He was in the final year of his contract last season and Arsenal opted to swap him for Henrikh Mkhitaryan in January rather than lose the player for free a few months later.
The 29-year-old has struggled following his move to Manchester United and has scored just thrice in 19 games so far.
The final player in this XI left Arsenal in 2016 because he failed to break into the first team.
Serge Gnabry joined the Arsenal youth system in 2011 and made his professional debut a year later. Between 2012 and 2015, he played 18 games for Arsenal scoring once before joining West Brom on loan for the 2015/16 season.
The loan stint with West Brom didn’t benefit the player as he played just one league game. The following season, he left Arsenal on a permanent basis to join Werder Bremen.
Gnabry scored 11 times in 27 games for Bremen and also made his senior debut for Germany that year. He marked his debut for Germany with a hat-trick.
The German was signed by Bayern Munich ahead of the 2017/18 season and was immediately loaned out to Hoffenheim for a season. After an impressive spell on loan with Hoffenheim during which he scored 10 times in 26 games, the 23-year-old is now back at Bayern Munich as a first-team player.
Honourable mentions: Lucas Perez (West Ham), Joel Campbell (Frosinone), Theo Walcott (Everton), Lukas Podolski (Vissel Kobe), Carlos Vela (Los Angeles FC), Robin van Persie (Feyenoord) and Emmanuel Adebayor (İstanbul Başakşehir)