Jay Bothroyd during the 2000 FA Youth Cup final against Coventry City.

Six former Arsenal players we can’t believe are still playing in 2021

Arsenal have a lot of former players who’ve retired from the game, but some of them are still chugging along, playing professional football in the dotage of their careers.

With advancements in nutrition and conditioning over the past few decades, more players than ever are carrying on well into their 30s. But that doesn’t mean everybody has had the longevity of these former Gunners.

We’ve found six ex-Arsenal players that we couldn’t believe were still playing football in 2022.

Mathieu Debuchy

Despite remaining with the club for four years after signing in 2014, Debuchy suffered an inconsistent time at the Emirates that was marked by injury.

Although he did with the Community Shield and FA Cup with the Gunners, the full-back lost his place to Hector Bellerin during his first season and never regained Arsene Wenger’s trust.

Debuchy returned to France on loan with Bordeaux before signing for St Etienne in 2018. He joined Valenciennes last summer on a two-year deal and made 29 appearances for the club as they finished 16th in Ligue 2.

Alex Song

He may only be 34 but we’re surprised to read that Song is still playing.

Maybe it’s because he “didn’t give a fuck” about playing football when a lucrative contract offer from Barcelona guaranteed he would become a “millionaire”.

Or maybe it’s because he was one of nine players sacked by Swiss club FC Sion at the outbreak of the pandemic.

But the midfielder is soldiering on and has played for Djiboutian side Arta/Solar7 since November 2020.

The streets will never forget Song’s performances in the 2011-12 season, especially this assist for Robin van Persie’s iconic volley against Everton.

Gael Clichy

Clichy went on to establish himself as a first-teamer at Arsenal following Ashley Cole’s controversial move to Chelsea in 2006.

After being part of the Invicibles squad, the full-back won two Premier League medals with Manchester City and won the Turkish Super Lig with Istanbul Basaksehir in 2020

The former France international is now playing for Servette in Switzerland and has spoken about his plans after his playing career is over.

“The idea is to become a manager,” he told The Guardian in July 2021, “but I do not know if I will be good or if I will like it, so the first step is to learn.

“I am talking to the coaches, I am going to start my badges and from that moment I will see if I have that feeling and desire to do it. At the moment I do but when I am available and have my badges, maybe I will feel it is not really for me.”

The left-back was most recently seen scowling after getting covered in beer in an event to mark the 10-year anniversary of Man City’s 2012 title win. He’s now got his UEFA A License and will surely be seen in a dugout soon:

Jay Bothroyd

Bothroyd was part of Arsenal’s 2000 FA Youth Cup-winning side but never played a first-team match for Arsenal after throwing his shirt at Don Howe in anger at being substituted during a youth match against West Ham.

The striker was sold to Coventry for £1.3million, marking the start of a nomadic career. Over the past two decades, Bothroyd has appeared for *takes breath* Coventry, Perugia, Blackburn, Charlton, Wolves, Stoke, Cardiff, QPR, Sheffield Wednesday, Muangthong United, Jubilo Iwata and Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo.

Bothroyd, 40, only left Sapporo earlier this year and is yet to announce his retirement. He hasn’t lost any of the ability that earnt him an England cap under Fabio Capello.

Sebastian Larsson

It may seem as if Larsson has been around since the dawn of time but the evergreen midfielder is showing no signs of retiring just yet.

After spending his career in England with Arsenal, Birmingham, Sunderland and Hull, Larsson has spent the last four years back in Sweden with AIK and has made 130 appearances for the club.

He even played at Euro 2020, starting all four of Sweden’s matches, but announced his international retirement following their last-16 defeat against Ukraine. With four goals in 11 Allsvenskan appearances in 2022, he’s evidently not lost it.

Fran Merida

Merida only made a handful of appearances for Arsenal during the late 2000s before being shipped off to Atletico Madrid. He’s spent his career in Spain, Portugal and Brazil and currently turns out for Espanyol.

He may have only scored one goal for Arsenal, but at least Merida made it a special one.

Fran Merida wheel away in celebration, arms spread, after scoring for Arsenal against Liverpool in October 2009.

READ: Fran Merida at Arsenal: High hopes, one wondergoal & a very long road back

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