Arsenal Commentary: Ranking Top 5 Players To Leave The Gunners In Recent Years

Theo Walcott's ongoing contract wrangles mean Arsenal fans are preparing for something that has become depressingly familiar. That is the potentially imminent exit of another star player.

Arsene Wenger recently discussed how difficult it is to deal with so many star defections, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Wenger's point is well taken. The top five players to rush for the exit door in recent years, are painful reminders to Arsenal fans of what might have been and what they're missing.

Emmanuel Adebayor

Whatever Arsenal fans might think of Adebayor now, he developed into a world-class striker when he represented the Gunners. Arsenal's best chance of reclaiming the English Premier League title came in 2007/08.

That was a team led by the prolific dominance of Adebayor. He replaced the legendary Theirry Henry and stepped in for the injured Robin van Persie.

Seemingly without feeling that burden, Adebayor was simply awesome. He netted 30 goals, but trouble soon followed.

He tried to engineer a transfer via some ugly manipulation in the summer of 2008. One season later, he was offloaded to Manchester City.

He has never replicated his Arsenal form and remains a player whose temperament often overrides his talent. Adebayor currently plies his trade for Arsenal's local rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Kolo Toure

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but if Wenger could do it again, surely he would offload William Gallas instead of Kolo Toure?  Wenger made the reverse decision in the summer of 2009 and Arsenal's defense has never really recovered.

That's because for a few years in the middle of the last decade, Toure was as skilled as any defender. He smoothly transitioned from midfielder to central defense.

In no time at all, he became a linchpin for the team that won the league with an unbeaten record in 2003/04. Strong, agile and tenacious, Toure also quickly won over Arsenal's fans.

He was a player who developed his raw skill through passionate commitment. His later Arsenal years were marred by a deteriorating relationship with Gallas.

Joining Adebayor in Manchester, still did nothing to sour fond memories of Toure's time as a Gunner.

Samir Nasri

Unlike Toure, Samir Nasri's route from Arsenal to City, left a trail of bitterness. Like Adebayor, Nasri was viewed as a mercenary who cashed in on Wenger making him a better player.

Tricky, creative and with an eye for goal, Nasri was a perfect fit for Arsenal. Technically-proficient, Nasri could wow the crowd with skill, yet also frustrate with inconsistency.

For most of 2010/11, Nasri produced magic football. The only problem was he wouldn't sign a new contract.

The issue dragged into the summer and Nasri eventually headed off to win a league title he played little part in securing. At least he had significantly higher wages.

However, Nasri made a big mistake turning his back on Wenger and the Gunners. Prior to his exit, Cesc Fabregas had left.

That meant Nasri was free to occupy the central playmaker role he had always craved. It's hard to believe Wenger wouldn't have made Nasri the creative hub of his post-Fabregas team.

Robin van Persie

Robin van Persie doesn't quite top this list. However, it's no less painful watching him play for Manchester United.

Arsenal fans watched the Dutchman develop from a temperamental right winger into the finest central striker in world football. Both the fans and Wenger also watched and waited, as van Persie suffered through numerous long-term injuries.

The reward for that patience was witnessing van Persie engineer his defection, after his only season without injury. That the club secured £24 million from United, was financially impressive.

However, losing a player who has just hit his world class peak, isn't made easier by monetary compensation.

Cesc Fabregas

Undoubtedly the best player to leave Arsenal in recent years, is Cesc Fabregas. Put into the team at 16, Fabregas shared every step of his development with the Arsenal faithful.

At first, he was a clever, efficient player. As time progressed he became a natural leader and lethal attacking force.

Few players in the game could match Fabregas for creative output. The diminutive Spaniard was the embodiment of Wenger's footballing vision.

With Fabregas as the focal point, Arsenal played bright, expansive football. A cerebral passer, Fabregas had the flair and technique to make his ideas a reality.

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