Ramsey next? Five players who returned to Arsenal & how they fared

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Arsenal and France striker Thierry Henry.

It’s incredibly romantic when a player decides to return to their former club – as Arsenal fans know better than most.

A handful of players, who’ve often spent their peak years in north London, have been seduced into returning and have managed not to tarnish their legacy.

With Aaron Ramsey being linked with a return to Arsenal in January, we’ve identified five other players who managed two spells with the club.

Thierry Henry

Arguably the greatest player to ever represent Arsenal, Henry broke the club’s goalscoring record and won a shedload of trophies before leaving for Barcelona in 2007.

Arsenal fans never expected him to grace the Emirates again until injuries to Marouane Chamakh and Gervinho caused Arsene Wenger to re-sign Henry on a two-month loan deal at the start of 2012

The striker scored the winner against Leeds in his second debut in the FA Cup, lifting the roof off the Emirates in the process, before also scoring the winning goal in the dying moments of a 2-1 league victory over Sunderland.

They say you should never go back; Henry proved that it need not end in disaster.

Sol Campbell

Campbell became a hate figure at Tottenham after joining rivals Arsenal in 2001 but the move paid dividends for the England defender as he won two league titles and three FA Cups in his initial five-year spell at Highbury.

After three years at Portsmouth, followed by a brief and bonkers cameo at Notts County, Campbell trained with the Gunners in 2009 to maintain fitness.

But he ended up signing a short-term deal in January 2010 and became a key player in the second half of the season amid a minor injury crisis, helping the team secure Champions League qualification.

Jens Lehmann

We all remember Lehmann’s first spell at Arsenal; the mad eyes, the eccentric goalkeeping, the award-winning pantomime with Didier Drogba.

What’s less recalled is how the former Germany international returned to the club in 2011 after injuries to three Arsenal goalkeepers.

His chance came when Manuel Almunia was injured in the warm-up before a match at Blackpool and, at the age of 41, helped Arsenal to a 3-1 victory.

He retired (again) at the end of the 2010-11 season.

Arsenal cult hero Jens Lehmann

READ: An ode to Jens Lehmann: The maddest of the maverick keepers

Martin Keown

Keown started out playing Gaelic football before Arsenal snapped him up on a schoolboy contract. The centre-back made his debut for the club in 1985 but was sold to Aston Villa by George Graham a year later.

After a productive spell at Everton, Keown was re-signed by Graham in 1993 and went on to enjoy an incredibly successful 11 years at the heart of Arsenal’s defence.

Younger fans may remember Keown primarily for his role in the Battle of Old Trafford in 2003, but the England international was an incredibly accomplished defender and participating in the Invincibles season was a fitting send-off to his second spell at Arsenal.

Mathieu Flamini

Arriving in the summer of 2004, Flamini gradually established himself as a first-team regular under Wenger and enjoyed the best season of his career in 2007-08 before switching to AC Milan.

Another player who returned to the club to maintain fitness, Flamini was given another contract in August 2013 and helped Arsenal make a great start to the season.

The former France international won the FA Cup twice during his second spell at the club, but he was an unused sub on both occasions.

He left for Crystal Palace in the summer of 2016 after 246 appearances and 13 goals over his two spells at the Emirates.


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