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Considering how Manchester United dominated for large periods of Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign, Arsene Wenger did a tremendous job to be one of the few managers to break the cycle.
Wenger guided Arsenal to the Premier League and FA Cup Double in 1997-98 and also 2001-02, as part of 10 major trophies he won in his 22-year reign at the club.
That also included a run to the Champions League final in 2005-06, only to see his 10-men Gunners come undone against Barcelona.
And one cannot forget their incredible Invincibles season 17 years ago, completing an entire domestic season without losing and extending that run to 49 games in the next campaign.
Arsene Wenger lost several of his world-class stars while he was Arsenal boss
(Image: EMPICS Sport)
But Wenger certainly had his hands full midway through his reign. With an empty bank account for transfers, a new stadium in the works and several Arsenal players running down their contracts, it was no picnic for the legendary boss.
It was up to him and his scouting staff to unearth talent while being forced to cash in on his star names to raise funds for the Emirates Stadium.
Mirror Sport looks at five players who headed for the door under Wenger’s rule after falling foul of the Frenchman…
Robin van Persie
Arsene Wenger claims Robin van Persie wanted to return to Arsenal in 2015
(Image: AFP/Getty Images)
How quickly can a club legend turn into a villain? Just ask Van Persie, who found himself subject of heavy criticism from Arsenal fans for turning his back on the club to join Manchester United.
The Dutchman had spent eight years with the Gunners but with no league titles following in that time, the striker opted for a new challenge with his contract running down.
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Wenger realised the club could not convince Van Persie to stay and sold him for £24m, much to the dismay of the Gunners supporters.
His decision to leave was justified almost immediately, as he starred in United’s title success in 2012-13. But every time he returned to north London, the fans made their feelings clear by giving him a hostile reception.
His time at Old Trafford would last only three seasons and he was sold to Fenerbahce in 2015, but Wenger revealed Van Persie even tried to negotiate a sensational return to the Emirates, only for him to reject his advances.
"Van Persie had a fantastic first six months at Old Trafford: he put the team on track for the Premiership title and made it even more difficult for us,” Wenger explained in his new 'Arsene Wenger, My Life in Red and White'.
"But after three years of the four that he signed for, he was injured and Ferguson sold him to the Turkish club Fenerbahce.
"He called me because he wanted to come back, but it was impossible: he was at the end of his career and we were investing in young players."
Samir Nasri left Arsenal to join Manchester City in 2011
Which Arsenal player would have you have liked to have kept at the club? Have your say in the comments section below.
What made Van Persie’s exit even more painful was that the previous summer, Nasri had left them with a similar feeling of anger — only this time heading to the blue half of Manchester.
The Frenchman was a revelation after joining from Marseille and had coped with expectation throughout his whole career, burdened with a tag of the ‘next Zidane’ as a teenager.
The tricky playmaker had ran down his contract in the hope of securing a big move elsewhere and sprinted into the oil-rich clutches of Man City, with Arsenal fans criticising his money-motivated £25m transfer in 2011.
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Spookily, the midfielder would also go on to win the Premier League title later that season, perhaps providing some vindication for his decision to go.
If Wenger was hurt at the time by Nasri’s decision to head for pastures new, the veteran coach has since moved on from the incident after the player revealed he keeps in touch with his former boss.
He may have repaired his relationship with Wenger, but the fans may never forgive him for the manner in which he left.
Arsene Wenger had nurtured Cesc Fabregas as a teenager but turned down the chance to re-sign the midfielder
It was a devastating loss for Arsenal and Wenger when they sold Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona.
They had little choice in the matter after Fabregas picked his moment, with a year left on his deal, to force through a return to his boyhood club in a £27m deal.
After spending eight years in north London, Fabregas’ revelation that he wanted to leave caused immense pain to the fans. But perhaps no one more than Wenger, who had nurtured him from a 16-year-old into one of the world’s best midfielders.
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Three years later and out of favour in Catalonia, Fabregas was looking for a way out. Whether it was a case of stubbornness, Wenger shut the door on his former protege and threw away the key, later claiming he wanted to “set an example” to the younger players of what happened if they left.
Fabregas eventually joined Chelsea in 2014 and added a Premier League title and FA Cup to his trophy collection, suggesting that maybe Wenger got this one wrong.
Emmanuel Adebayor insists he still "hates" Arsenal after accusing Arsene Wenger of forcing him out of the club
(Image: 2008 AFP)
That celebration will forever remain iconic, but Adebayor might be the first to admit he saw the fresh green grass in Manchester and jumped ship a little too early.
The Togo striker had been lethal in Arsenal colours in his three seasons at the club, scoring 62 goals in 147 appearances, emerging as a genuine successor to Thierry Henry.
But like his Arsenal team-mates Van Persie, Nasri and Fabregas, Adebayor seized his chance to earn a bigger payday and work towards trophies elsewhere, sealing a move to Man City in 2010 for £25m.
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Feeling some anger from his departure and verbal abuse from the Arsenal fans, Adebayor scored against his former club and proceeded to run the entire length of the pitch to celebrate in front of them.
Adebayor to this day insists he still hates the club and Wenger, calling the Frenchman a “fake” manager, and claims he was forced out of the club.
"I had a meeting with Arsene Wenger in his office when he told me I had to leave because he didn't see my future anymore in Arsenal,” he told Turkey’s Beyond The Game Podcast.
"So I didn't have any other choice than joining Man City, who I was very happy to join.”
Safe to say they won’t be catching up dinner any time soon, then.
Thierry Henry was allowed to return to Arsenal for a brief stint in 2012
(Image: Daily Mirror)
What else is there to say about Henry, one of the finest foreign imports into the Premier League —if not the finest?
The Frenchman was not so much axed by Wenger. If anything, the striker had outgrown the club and sawed himself free from the shackles.
He will go down as Wenger’s best-ever signing, arriving in 1999 from Monaco for £11m, after scoring 226 goals in his eight-year spell in north London.
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It wasn’t the goal tallies that made him a legend but the breathtaking ease in which he glided past his opponents, with a number of memorable strikes and a hat-trick at the San Siro for good measure.
His final season at Arsenal signalled the end, with injuries meaning he was limited to only 17 league appearances. He joined Barcelona in 2007 and in his first season, helped the Blaugrana to an incredible Treble.
Despite his decision to leave, the pair have always shared a close relationship, with Henry describing Wenger as a “father figure”, and he brought the veteran back for a short loan stint in 2012.
Sorry Cesc, one-time deal only.