1) Robin Van Persie
Perhaps the first name that comes to mind, it still remains a mystery as to why Wenger would sanction the sale of his captain to arch rivals. True, Van Persie was going to run down his contract and would have ended up at the Old Trafford anyway; however, the Arsenal hierarchy could surely have chosen some other way out. The Dutchman was sensational for Arsenal in his final season at the Emirates, single-handedly winning them games. His move to Old Trafford was a signal of Arsenal’s decline, as their captain raised the white flag virtually ending a resistance against Fergie’s United. Being the world-class player he was, Van Persie ultimately proved to be the difference as United regained the title from neighbours Manchester City in the striker’s first season.
2) Cesc Fabregas
Cesc Fabregas is still fondly remembered by many Arsenal fans for the wonderful five years the Spaniard had at the Emirates. Replacing the legendary Patrick Viera was going to be no easy task; nevertheless, Fabregas showed his maturity doing the task with aplomb. His fine technical ability and being the tactician he was, Fabregas soon became the heartbeat of Arsenal’s attacking moves. His love for Arsenal notwithstanding, the call from his boyhood club Barcelona proved to be irrestible for the Gunners’ captain as he sealed a switch back to Spain. The real shock came when after four years at Barca, Cesc was to leave the Catalans. However, Arsene declined the first option and Fabregas instead moved to Chelsea, where he has been a league champion twice now.
3) Samir Nasri
Like Fabregas, Nasri too became a prominent figure in the Arsenal midfield. The Frenchman took his fair share of time to settle in the surroundings in London before bursting on to the scene. Scoring 10 goals from midfield proved Nasri’s ability to get himself amongst the goals as well. And when Manchester City sought to build a team, they cherry picked Arsenal. Nasri followed the likes of Clichy and Adebayor to the Etihad causing a stir among the supporters. Arsenal’s obduracy meant that the club declined to increase their star’s wages and as a result lost a player of top quality. Nasri won two league titles with City.
4) Alexis Sanchez
In many ways, Sanchez’s departure to United sounds familiar to Arsenal supporters. Like Van Persie, Sanchez too has left the club entering his prime and like the Dutchman, Sanchez too could instigate a serious title challenge for the Red Devils. The Chilean became a maligned figure at Arsenal in his final days in London, with many reports suggesting that even the dressing room wanted him gone. In reality though, Sanchez cannot really be blamed for the move. At 29, Sanchez has one last chance to get his hands on the league title and write his name in the history books. Arsenal’s mediocre season is to be blamed for their star’s departure mid-season.
5) Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
The dazzling Englishman left Arsenal after nearly a decade to join Liverpool. Chamberlain, though, left the club solely to play in the central midfield, a position Arsene Wenger has been hesitant to play Chamberlain in. At Liverpool, Chamberlain is already showing signs of becoming the player everyone expected him to be. His decision to leave Arsenal is another sign of club’s slide into mediocrity. Arsenal are no longer the club young players see themselves developing at.