Arsenal are one of the most successful and well-supported clubs in English football but even they have to sometimes accept that key players might want to go onto pastures new.
The North London club’s rich history is peppered with star players deciding to draw a line under their time at Arsenal, and in return the Premier League outfit have received some remarkable sums of money.
Here are the 10 most expensive sales Arsenal have made in their history.
10. Emmanuel Adebayor – £26.1m (To Man City, 2009)
Despite having signed a contract extension just 12 months earlier, Emmanuel Adebayor decided to leave the Gunners in July 2009 when City paid £26.1 million to bring the towering striker north.
Despite his impressive record at Arsenal, Adebayor ruined any good will with their support shortly after making the move when he scored in only his fourth City game – a 4-2 win over Arsenal. The Togo international then celebrated by running the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of his former fans.
9. Marc Overmars – £26m (To Barcelona, 2000)
Marc Overmars only spent three years at Arsenal, but the Dutch winger was a fine talent whose blistering pace helped the club to a domestic double under Arsene Wenger in the 1997/98 season.
However, when Barcelona came calling in 2000, there was little Arsenal could do. The Spanish club knew Overmars was desperate to play for them and he duly signed, with France midfielder Manu Petit making the move at the same time.
Overmars even announced the move on his own personal website before Arsenal had chance to confirm the deal to the media. Surely a first for any player in 2000.
8. Joe Willock – £26.46m (To Newcastle, 2021)
In the summer of 2021 Arsenal decided to cash in on another young prospect by selling Joe Willock to Newcastle for a little more than £26m.
After impressing on loan at St James’ Park the previous Premier League campaign, the Toon were desperate to sign him and with little chance of Willock breaking into Mikel Arteta’s starting XI, the London club seemed more than happy to sell at a reasonable price.
“I’ve made a big mistake”
— Sky Sports Retro (@SkySportsRetro) February 21, 2021
7. Alex Iwobi – £27.4m (To Everton, 2019)
After an admittedly bright start, which saw Alex Iwobi break through to become a constituent part of the team that won the FA Cup and reached the Europa League final in 2019, the Nigeria international was sold to Everton for what was still a surprising sum of money.
While Arsenal may not have been happy to see a youngster go, Iwobi’s form since joining the Merseyside club in 2019 suggests they did well to accept such a high offer when they did.
6. Robin van Persie – £27.6m (To Man Utd, 2012)
Like Thierry Henry before him, Robin van Persie established himself as Arsenal’s most important player and one of the best strikers in the world before ultimately deciding to move on to a bigger club in search of silverware.
After announcing that he wouldn’t be signing a contract extension in 2012, Arsenal promptly agreed terms to sell the Dutch striker to Premier League rivals Manchester United, and Van Persie happily agreed to a four-year deal. The striker won his first English top-flight title under Sir Alex Ferguson the very next season.
5. Cesc Fabregas – £30.6m (To Barcelona, 2011)
After joining the club as a youth player and establishing himself as one of the best midfielders in the world, Cesc Fabregas’ time in London was always overshadowed by the fear that he would one day return to Barcelona. And that’s exactly what happened in 2012.
After joining the Catalan side, Fabregas played a crucial role in helping Barca to the Spanish Cup in his first season and then the league title in his second. However, the midfielder never did manage to claim the Champions League, which had also eluded him at Arsenal.
4. Alexis Sanchez – £30.6m (To Man Utd, 2018)
Having helped Arsenal win two FA Cups in 2015 and 2016 respectively, Alexis Sanchez quickly grew tired of the club’s inability to regularly compete for the Premier League title and eventually pushed through a move to Man Utd in January 2018, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan moving the opposite way.
However, by that point the Chile international was well past his best and in two seasons at Old Trafford the expensive and often injured forward managed to score just three goals in 32 Premier League appearances.
3. Nicolas Anelka – £31.5m (To Real Madrid, 1999)
Having joined the club for just £500,000 in 1997, Nicolas Anelka was nothing short of a phenomenon when he broke into Arsenal’s first team and played a crucial role in the club winning the Premier League and FA Cup double in the 1997/98 season.
Despite his impressive goal record, Anelka soon dveloped a reputation as “Le Sulk” and when Real Madrid came in with a big-money bid in 1999, the club accepted, only somewhat reluctantly.
The France striker later admitted he should have never left the London club that turned him into a continental star.
2. Folarin Balogun – £34m (To Monaco, 2023)
After a successful period in France for Reims, Folarin Balogun came back with a point to prove. Mikel Arteta already has a large selection of attacking options at his disposal – and Balogun was not willing to just remain at the Emirates and stay on the bench.
A number of clubs looked at the young striker during the window, but it was Monaco who got the deal over the line in 2023.
1. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – £34.2m (To Liverpool, 2017)
After joining Arsenal from Southampton in 2011, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain quickly established himself as an impressive winger and one of English football’s most exciting young prospects. In seven seasons the attacker played in just under 200 games for the Gunners and won three FA Cups along the way.
However, the England international was enticed away in 2017 when Liverpool offered to pay a substantial fee, and while Oxlade-Chamberlain has proved to be a useful addition to Jurgen Klopp’s side, injury seriously limited the impact he had at Anfield.