It used to be the case that Arsenal were known more for losing their stars than for offloading those on the fringes of the first team.
However, in recent years, we’ve seen that change a little. When Arsenal can get £34million for a player they didn’t want in Alex Iwobi, you know there’s money to be made from clearing out the loft.
We’ve looked back at the last few windows, going back to 2015, to identify the other fringe players Arsenal sold for £1million or more, many of whom barely featured for the first team in the months before. The 17 below fetched a combined £80million+, meaning when you factor in Iwobi the tally goes above £100million.
Bielik, who joined Arsenal as a hotly-tipped 16-year-old, never broke into the first team either in defence or midfield.
Indeed, the Pole played just twice for the Gunners, making his debut in a 3-0 League Cup defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in 2015 and making a brief cameo in the same competition one year later against Nottingham Forest.
Arsenal made a tidy profit, though, selling him to Derby County for a fee which could rise to £9.5million – nearly four times the £2.4million the London club paid Legia Warsaw for his services.
Another academy player, Thompson didn’t even play a minute for the first team before being sold to Brentford over the summer.
Reports vary on the fee, but it has been suggested Arsenal received £3million for the left-sided teenager, along with a 20% sell-on fee.
Thompson made his Bees debut in the League Cup, but is yet to make his Championship bow.
— Arsenal Academy (@ArsenalAcademy) August 8, 2019
Amaechi was among those expected to make the step up, having travelled to Baku for last season’s Europa League final, but the 18-year-old sought pastures new after being left off the bench for that game.
The winger had only one year left on his contract, which means the £2.25million fee recouped doesn’t feel like the worst bit of business, but it remains to be seen whether he goes onto bigger and better things.
Now at Hamburg, Amaechi has already played two games for the 2. Bundesliga high-flyers, making his league debut in a 4-0 win over Erzgebirge Aue.
It might have felt like more, but Ospina played just 29 Premier League games in five years on Arsenal’s books, and started just four league games in his last full season.
Napoli took the Colombian on loan last season before forking out £3.15million to make the move permanent – effectively giving the Gunners their money back.
The 31-year-old has been competing with Alex Meret for a starting spot this season, with the Italy Under-21 international playing the majority of games in the early stages of the campaign.
After outlasting the rest of the British core, Jenkinson finally waved goodbye in August with a £2million move to Nottingham Forest, ending an eight-year association with the club he joined from Charlton as a teenager.
The right-back never started more than 14 league games for Arsenal in one season, and played just eight times in all competitions in 2018-19.
He has already got halfway towards that total for Forest, starting three times in the Championship and once in the League Cup, but sat out his new club’s second-round defeat at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal surprisingly managed to bring in seven figures for Campbell, a player who appeared just 40 times in seven years on their books.
Just over half of those were in the league, too, giving him an average of just over 132 Premier League minutes per year and no fewer than six loan spells away from north London.
He’s now on the books of Frosinone, for whom he played 17 times last year. Obviously the £1.35million signing is out on loan again now, because that’s how his life works.
Reine-Adélaide is a classic example of an academy player sold for decent money, who showed himself to be worth a lot more after moving to a club where he could play every week.
The Frenchman joined Angers for £1.4million in 2018 after a successful loan spell, deciding he wasn’t going to add to his eight cup appearances in an Arsenal shirt, and played more than 30 times in his first season.
His form prompted interest from Lyon, who brought him on board for £23million. Thankfully for the Gunners, a sell-on clause meant they received nearly £5million of that.
Young prospect Mavididi decided not to wait any longer for a Gunners breakthrough, moving to Juventus for £1.8million in 2018.
The 21-year-old spent some time away from Arsenal on loan, most notably at Charlton, but made the shift in the knowledge he’d be mostly playing for Juve’s Under-23s but might have a chance of a first-team look-in.
Mavididi made his Juve debut at SPAL last season, coming on as a sub for Moise Kean, and has joined Ligue 1 side Dijon on loan for the 2019-20 season.
There was a time when Walcott was an Arsenal regular, but his final half-season wasn’t it.
The England international played just 64 league minutes in the 2017-18 season before moving to Everton in a £20million deal which only ever looked like being better for Arsenal than the Toffees.
He has been broadly fine on Merseyside but is already a backup to a string of wingers and forwards including none other than Alex Iwobi.
Like Walcott, Coquelin had been pushed to the fringes during the 2017-18 campaign before finally leaving in the middle of that season.
The French midfielder started just once in the league that term, playing a further six games as a substitute, before jumping ship for Valencia in a £12million move.
Not the worst bit of business considering Coquelin looked likely to be on his way out a lot sooner when he was loaned out to Charlton in the 2014-15 season.
After a few years of looking like a long-term regular, Gibbs was nothing of the sort by the summer of 2017.
The left-back, who won 10 England caps while on Arsenal’s books, featured in just 11 league games in his final season before making a £6.75million move to West Bromwich Albion.
Gibbs has been a regular for the Baggies in both the Premier League and Championship, with his 79 games coming under six different managers including caretakers.
Brazilian defender Gabriel made just 15 league starts in his final Gunners season before, like Coquelin a few months later, moving to Valencia.
He’s one of those players who seems like he was much more involved than he actually was, perhaps due to flashpoints like his battles with Diego Costa against Chelsea, but he only played 46 Premier League games in total.
The former Villarreal man has already passed that target at Valencia, playing more than 60 times in La Liga since his £9.9million move.
Arsenal will feel pretty happy to have picked up around £3million for Toral, a man who never felt quite good enough to hold down a regular Premier League place.
The Catalan-born midfielder joined from Barcelona’s academy at the same time as Héctor Bellerín but never played a competitive minute in red despite impressing on loan at Brentford and Birmingham City.
He joined Hull in 2017, shortly after the Tigers’ relegation from the Premier League, and scored his fourth goal for the club in this season’s League Cup.
— Hull City (@HullCity) August 24, 2017
Another English talent to try his luck in the Bundesliga, Hinds followed former Arsenal coach Andries Jonker to Wolfsburg in a £1.35million move back in 2017.
He made his first league start shortly after, but his spell in Germany was cut short when the club released him following an unauthorised absence.
The striker had been without a club for nearly a year but joined Watford this summer following a trial. He is yet to play a competitive game for the Hornets.
On the face of it, £4.5million for a player with just 18 senior appearances in all competitions seems like a good deal, but hindsight is a killer.
In Arsenal’s defence, Gnabry had made next to no impact on loan at West Brom, and didn’t seem close to a first-team run when Werder Bremen came calling.
However, after an eye-catching first season including a hat-trick on his German international debut, he moved to Bayern Munich and has already become a big part of the Bavarians’ squad, scoring four goals in a 7-2 win at Tottenham in the Champions League.
North London is RED!!! pic.twitter.com/1Te5YjqpWo
— Serge Gnabry (@SergeGnabry) October 1, 2019
Okay, this one worked out a little better. Wellington never played a competitive minute for Arsenal, yet the Gunners received a seven figure sum when selling the Brazilian back to boyhood club Fluminense.
The winger was forced out on loan multiple times amid work permit issues, playing 100+ games across multiple leagues but none in an Arsenal shirt.
Since returning to Brazil, he has been linked with another European switch but remains a Fluminense player at the time of writing.
One of the handful of academy players currently at a Premier League club, Hayden left after failing to add to two League Cup appearances with any league action.
He had to drop down a division at first, joining then-Championship Newcastle for £2.6million in 2016, but earned promotion in his first season and has stayed in the north-east ever since.
The midfielder made his 100th Magpies appearance this season, but also picked up a red card a few weeks later in a forgettable 5-0 defeat at Leicester.