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Arsenal's Shkodran Mustafi during the UEFA Europa League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. Picture date: 5th November 2020.

5 former Arsenal players we can’t believe are currently free agents

Arsenal have a litany of former players at other clubs, but there are more than a few surprising names that are surprisingly unattached despite having not yet retired.

Of course, players like David Luiz and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are still active but we wanted to dig a little deeper and find those whose current unemployment has raised an eyebrow or two.

We’ve picked out five former Gunners that we can’t believe are currently without a club.

Shkodran Mustafi

The most infamous name on this list, Mustafi arrived near the end of the 2016 summer transfer window for around £35million from Valencia.

A World Cup winner with Germany, there was a lot of excitement at the arrival of Mustafi and Arsenal managed to go unbeaten in his first 21 games at the club.

However a series of calamitous errors followed over the next four seasons, in which time Arsenal’s defence became leakier than ever, before he was eventually released in January 2021.

The centre-back has since suffered back-to-back relegations, having gone down with Schalke in 2021 before facing the drop with Levante the following year.

Still only 31, he was released by the Spanish club this summer and remains unattached.

Denilson

You remember Denilson? Right?

An Arsenal staple during the late 2000s and early 2010s, the Brazilian midfielder struggled badly with homesickness and injury problems during his time in London before returning to Sao Paulo in 2011.

“As I stayed at the club for five years and I was two or three years on my own, then I started taking people to stay with me,” Denilson told Globo Esporte in 2020. “But even so, I missed the family a lot. I took the people, but emotionally I wasn’t very well. I still managed to stay five years.

“There were a few months left to get the European passport. It was six years at the time to achieve this. I couldn’t take it anymore.

“It was more the cold weather in England, the people who were cold and emotionally draining me in the country. On the pitch it reflected a lot.”

Apart from two years in the United Arab Emirates and a brief spell in Malta, Denilson has spent the rest of his career in Brazil, but hasn’t been employed since leaving Brasil de Pelotas in 2021.

Gervinho

Gervinho became a byword for frustration and inconsistency during his time at the Emirates, shapeshifting between Champions League quality and Sunday League performances in the manner of somebody pressing the shuffle button on their iPod.

After two years in England, the former Ivory Coast international was sold to Roma before a spell in China during their ‘Saudi Arabia’ period.

Now 36, Gervinho last played in Greece for Aris Thessaloniki. Form an orderly queue…

Sanchez Watt

Watt scored on his Arsenal debut in a cup victory over West Brom but would not add to that solitary strike.

After several loan spells away from the Emirates – including a promotion-winning stint at Leeds – he eventually left on a free when his contract expired in 2013 and has been dropping further and further down the pyramid since.

He last played for Wealdstone in the 2019-20 season, previously entering non-league folklore for one of the most surreal red cards in human history.

Matt Macey

Macey was a raw 19-year-old goalkeeper when Arsenal paid Bristol Rovers £100,000 in compensation for his services in October 2013.

The West Country native was chosen to travel with the first team to a pre-season training camp in Austria and made the bench for a league match against West Brom.

Loan spells at Accrington Stanley, Luton Town and Plymouth Argyle followed without Macey making an Arsenal appearance during his seven years at the club.

Despite this, Macey earned a 2020 FA Cup winner’s medal as part of the squad that beat Chelsea 2-1.

He eventually joined Hibernian in the summer of 2021, before spells at Luton and Portsmouth. He has been unattached since leaving Kenilworth Road at the end of last season and is still just 29.


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