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