Willian is now an Arsenal player but how many players have moved from Chelsea to Arsenal over the years?

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 26: Willian of Chelsea celebrates after scoring his team's fourth goal during the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Chelsea FC at Turf Moor on October 26, 2019 in Burnley, United Kingdom. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
BURNLEY, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 26: Willian of Chelsea celebrates after scoring his team’s fourth goal during the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Chelsea FC at Turf Moor on October 26, 2019 in Burnley, United Kingdom. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Willian officially left Chelsea at the end of his contract and was announced as an Arsenal player on August 14, 2020 after he completed his medical.

Before Willian, 30 men have featured for both Arsenal and Chelsea, either on the field or as manager, but how many made a direct move from Chelsea to Arsenal with no stops in-between?

The answer is ‘not many’, and most of those probably shouldn’t have bothered.

Players who moved from Chelsea to Arsenal

8th November 1955: Arsenal FC soccer players, left to right Bill Dickson, Vic Groves, Stan Charlton and Alec Forbes. (Photo by E. Bacon/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
8th November 1955: Arsenal FC soccer players, left to right Bill Dickson, Vic Groves, Stan Charlton and Alec Forbes. (Photo by E. Bacon/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Bill Dickson was the first to do it in 1953, a player who hails from a town not 25 miles from where I live in Northern Ireland. A wing half, he played 101 times for Chelsea over six years, scoring eight goals. He moved to Arsenal, where he stayed for three years, netting just a single goal in 29 appearances. A shoulder injury forced his retirement in 1957.

LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 26: Arsenal manager George Graham celebrates on the pitch after Arsenal had beaten Liverpool 2-0 to win the First Division Championship at Anfield on May 26, 1989 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Allsport/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM – MAY 26: Arsenal manager George Graham celebrates on the pitch after Arsenal had beaten Liverpool 2-0 to win the First Division Championship at Anfield on May 26, 1989 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Allsport/Getty Images)

13 years later, a more memorable name moved across London after scoring 35 goals in 72 games for Chelsea. When Bertie Mee was looking to replace Joe Baker, he identified George Graham, who had cost Chelsea just £5,000 in 1964 from Aston Villa, as the player he’d like. Graham’s transfer cost Arsenal £50,000 and Tommy Baldwin.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 22: William Gallas of Arsenal celebrates scoring the third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Portsmouth at the Emirates Stadium on August 22, 2009 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 22: William Gallas celebrates scoring the third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Portsmouth at the Emirates Stadium on August 22, 2009 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

William Gallas arrived next but we all know we wish he hadn’t. Coming as part of the Ashley Cole deal, which already stunk, Gallas stayed with Arsenal for four years and is mostly remembered for sullying the number 10 shirt, being stripped of the captaincy and his one-man, sit-down protest at Birmingham.

Arsenal footballers Lassana Diarra (L) and Robin Van Persie (R) attend a team training session at London Colney, in north London, 18 September 2007. Arsenal will challenge Spanish team Sevilla in the Champions League in London, 19 September 2007. AFP PHOTO/GLYN KIRK
Arsenal footballers Lassana Diarra (L) and Robin Van Persie (R) attend a team training session at London Colney, in north London, 18 September 2007. Arsenal will challenge Spanish team Sevilla in the Champions League in London, 19 September 2007. AFP PHOTO/GLYN KIRK

Lassana Diarra was the next to move from Chelsea to Arsenal and he probably shouldn’t have bothered either. Chelsea sold Diarra to Arsenal for £2.61m on August 31, 2007 before he could leave on a free. By the time the January had arrived, Diarra had decided he wasn’t being played enough and demanded another move. Arsenal shipped him off to Portsmouth for £6.3m who then sold him to Real Madrid for £18m a year later.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 05: Yossi Benayoun of Arsenal celebrates scoring during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Norwich City at the Emirates Stadium on May 5, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 05: Yossi Benayoun of Arsenal celebrates scoring during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Norwich City at the Emirates Stadium on May 5, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Yossi Benayoun joined Arsenal in 2011, but that was only on loan, which was a shame as I think most of the Arsenal fanbase really took to him.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 06: Petr Cech of Arsenal and Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal celebrate with The FA Community Shield during the The FA Community Shield final between Chelsea and Arsenal at Wembley Stadium on August 6, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 06: Petr Cech and Arsene Wenger, celebrate with The FA Community Shield during the The FA Community Shield final between Chelsea and Arsenal at Wembley Stadium on August 6, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Petr Cech came next, a signing so fresh you don’t really need me to remind you about it. He also hung up his boots at Arsenal before heading back to Chelsea to take up a coaching role.

Arsenal's English striker Eddie Nketiah celebrates after he scores the team's first goal during the English Premier League football match between Southampton and Arsenal at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England on June 25, 2020. (Photo by Mike Hewitt / POOL / AFP)
Eddie Nketiah celebrates after he scores the team’s first goal during the English Premier League football match between Southampton and Arsenal at St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton, southern England on June 25, 2020. (Photo by Mike Hewitt / POOL / AFP)

On the same day that Petr Cech joined Arsenal, they also signed Eddie Nketiah from their youth ranks. Although he didn’t make a senior appearance for Chelsea, I still felt he deserved a mention here given he is now part of the Arsenal first team squad. Chelsea felt Nketiah was too small and Arsenal snapped him up for free not long after he turned 16 with Arsene Wenger questioning why they’d let him leave.

Arsenal's Spanish head coach Mikel Arteta (R) celebrates with Arsenal's Brazilian defender David Luiz during the English FA Cup final football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London, on August 1, 2020. - Arsenal won the match 2-1. (Photo by Catherine Ivill / POOL / AFP)
Mikel Arteta celebrates with David Luiz after the English FA Cup final football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London, on August 1, 2020. – Arsenal won the match 2-1. (Photo by Catherine Ivill / POOL / AFP)

Finally, we come to David Luiz, the most recent over-30 player to cross the City before Willian.

He’s with us for another year and when he’s good, he’s really good. Problem is, he seems to get bored/or stupid really easily.

Hopefully, Mikel Arteta can help with that.

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.