With the 2020 summer transfer window still open, there are four ex-Arsenal players currently without a home, so could any of them turn up in the Premier League this season?
Once upon a time we might have been concerned that any number of the four on this list might rock up at the Emirates on a free transfer but I don’t think that’s something we need to worry about under Mikel Arteta.
Still, there are four homeless former Gunners out there, so who are they and where will they end up?
Yaya Sanogo (CF, 27)
Yaya Sanogo was with Arsenal between 13/14 and 16/17 after arriving on a free in what Arsene Wenger acknowledged was a bit of a punt due to Sanogo’s injury problems.
It was no surprise, then, that he spent a large portion of his time as an Arsenal player in the treatment room, only getting on the pitch to score one goal for Arsenal in 20 appearance, though, to be fair to Sanogo, he also scored a couple that were ruled out incorrectly.
At the end of August it was reported that Sanogo was ‘very close’ to signing for Middlesbrough but, as of the time of writing, he is still without a club.
Back in November, Sanogo spoke to France Football about why Arsene Wenger signed him.
“Everything went very quickly, in terms of what happened and my big injury,” Sanogo said. “I had a meeting with the boss (Arsène Wenger), who came to see me after matches against Laval and Tours. And, in what he was saying to me, how he spoke to me, it resonated with me.
“I knew that I would be going from Ligue 2 to the Premier League and be out injured for a year. In that sense, things were going fast. You are skipping some steps. But, if you had been in my shoes, would you have decided differently?
“I asked myself a lot of questions. But I said to myself: “Listen, here, the boss has come to see you. He has even called you. You are at Auxerre, in your zone, he wants to see you and he is interested.” I weighed up the pros and cons. But there, I thought: “There, the interest, it is clear.”
Alex Song (DM, 33)
An Arsenal player from 05/06 to 11/12, Alex Song could not resist the lure of Barcelona despite everybody else on the planet wondering what on earth the Catalans were doing buying him for £17.1m.
It was a move that destroyed Song’s career at a time when he was a regular Arsenal starter. From playing 4,079 minutes for Arsenal in his final season, Song went to Spain and played just 4,113 minutes for Barcelona in his four years as their player. Even during his two loan spells with West Ham he played fewer minutes than he did for Arsenal in his final season (3,288′).
He’s played even less since leaving Spain for Russia in 2016. 1,394 minutes for Rubin Kazan across two seasons was followed by 1,186 minutes for FC Sion in Switzerland who released him for nothing after two years, just as the Russians had done. Song, for his part, claimed unfair dismissal by the Swiss side.
Since leaving Arsenal eight years ago, Song has played a total of 9,981 minutes, 37.5% less than he played during his Arsenal career which spanned six years.
Now without a club, at least he acknowledged he knew he wouldn’t play for Barcelona much but, at least, it would make him rich.
“In my first professional contract I received £15,000 a week,” Song said. “You can imagine how euphoric I was… A young teenager, went from collecting 4,000 to 15,000 pounds.
“I could do shopping, crazy parties, etc … I went to a training and saw King Thierry Henry arrive in a car that was a gem. And I said I wanted it too, at any price. And I had it!
“Two months later I regretted buying it because I was spending all my money on fuel. In the end I ended up buying a Toyota,” he added.
“Most young footballers live beyond their means” he continued before saying it was not until “the last four years at Arsenal that I started earning a living, because my salary had increased considerably and I understood that I was being a wasteful person.
“After eight years at Arsenal, I hadn’t even been able to save £100,000! People thought I was a millionaire, but I was not like that.
“When I saw the amount I was going to receive at Barcelona, I did not hesitate,” he added. “I thought about my wife, my children and how it was necessary that after football we could have a comfortable life.
“When I spoke to the sports director, he said he wasn’t going to play much, but I didn’t care because I knew he was going to be a millionaire,” he concluded.
Few clubs seem to want Song at present so it remains to be seen what the 33-year-old will do next in his career. A move to China or the Middle East would seem perfect for him if he wants to chase more money.
Gael Clichy (LB, 35)
An Arsenal man between 03/04 and 10/11, Gael Clichy was lured to Manchester City with Arsenal receiving just under £7m for the France international.
It had been hoped that Clichy would fill the void left by Ashley Cole’s defection to Chelsea but the left-back, while competent, was never going to hit those heights. Few could, to be fair.
Arsenal and their fans were happy to let Clichy leave, unlike others during that window, with Kieran Gibbs ready to step up. As a boy who had come through the Academy, we were all only too happy to get behind Gibbo.
Clichy went on to win another two league titles to add to the one he won with Arsenal in 2004. He also won two league cups and is one of the few players to leave Arsenal for another top club and do well.
City released Clichy on a free transfer in 2017 when he signed for Basaksehir where he played for three years, running down his contract and leaving on another free.
At present, there are few links with the player although Brighton are said to have put a deal in front of him at the start of September.
“I remember clearly at that time the club was trying to promote more British players,” Clichy told Arsenal’s In Lockdown podcast during the summer when talking about whey he left.
“There was a group of four or five players, they were putting them out there, they wanted to build the team around them and I was getting to a point where, not the injuries, but where you feel that the club is saying they [don’t] want to keep you. ‘I don’t think they wanted me to leave but I didn’t feel at the time that they wanted me to stay. ‘I believe nowadays in football when you want a player to stay, you tell them you want them to stay and you make sure he stays.
“I didn’t feel that at the time. I’m not the only one, if you look around at the other players who left at the time that I left they would probably tell you the same and I think overall the decision was good for everybody. ‘It wasn’t linked to my injury, it wasn’t linked to anything but I could feel that the club was pushing towards something else. ‘If you speak with my close friends, my family, there was a moment where I was dying to finish my career at Arsenal because I was loving every single moment of it.
“But at the same time seeing how it was going, seeing that for those last few years where we hadn’t won anything, it was down to me as the player and I thought that maybe it was time to break the circle. ‘They were trying to promote new players so I said to myself, “You know what? Let’s go and see something else”.”
Samir Nasri (AM, 33)
An Arsenal player between 08/09 and 10/11, Samir Nasri left Arsenal the same summer as Clichy for the same destination. It was the year we also lost Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona and Arsene Wenger said we couldn’t be considered a big team if we let both Cesc and Nasri leave in the same window.
Like Clichy, Nasri also won titles with City but his career was to take a nosedive after he left the Citizens. They sold him to Antalyaspor for just £3.15m, some £21.6m less than they had paid Arsenal for his services.
In Turkey, Nasri played just eight times before being handed a doping ban that finished his time out there. In February 2018, Nasri was given a six-month ban from football by UEFA for receiving an intravenous drip of 500 millilitres of water containing nutrients.
By August, the ban had been increased by an extra 12 months and backdated to 1st July 2017.
When it was finally served, Nasri signed for West Ham on a free transfer in January 2019 but only played six times for the Hammers before moving on to Anderlecht last summer.
Nasri made just eight appearances last season for the Belgians and, when his one-year deal finished, they let him go. They were, it is reported, even less impressed with his behaviour during lockdown than they were with his performances on the pitch.
A hamstring injury followed by an abductor tear finished his season on 4 October 2019, the last time Nasri played.
“I had some really tough moments when I was really down,” Nasri said before signing for West Ham. “Mentally, I’m really strong but, for maybe the first time in my life, I cried about my career because I thought it was over.
“When you’ve been out for a year and you think it’s over, you think completely differently after that. I was just looking on TV and I wasn’t able to train and, in the meantime, I had a son.
“A lot of things have changed in my life and for the best. I’m really happy about it. I’m just blessed. I’m lucky to have a second chance. Not everyone in life has a second chance.”
At the time of writing, no clubs seem to be interested in offering him a final chance.