Willock next? The last nine Arsenal academy players sold to PL clubs

Quick Reads

Arsenal became renowned for their attractive football and commitment to fielding young players during the Arsene Wenger era.

This made their academy products attractive propositions to other clubs. Arsenal have a history of selling their youngsters to other top-flight clubs – a trend that looks set to continue as Newcastle pursue Joe Willock.

We’ve taken a look at the last nine academy players Arsenal sold to Premier League clubs and how they fared.

Emiliano Martinez

One of the worst transfer decisions Arsenal have made in years.

READ: Emi Martinez: From the Arsenal bench to Argentina’s Copa ‘phenomenon’

Alex Iwobi

Iwobi made his Arsenal debut in 2015 and scored 15 goals in 149 games for the first team.

Despite this, he never truly nailed down a starting berth at the Emirates and became heavily linked with a move elsewhere.

The Nigeria international fell further down the pecking order following Nicolas Pepe’s arrival in 2019 and joined Everton in a £34million deal.

Iwobi has underwhelmed at Goodison Park and nobody has suggested Arsenal were wrong to let him go.

Jack Wilshere

It doesn’t feel too long ago that Wilshere was English football’s Next Big Thing – in fairness, that performance against Barcelona was pretty good.

But injury problems dogged his time at Arsenal. The England midfielder only made five league appearances between the start of the 2015-16 and the end of the 2016-17 season and he gradually slipped away from first-team contention.

It was no surprise when Wilshere was released in 2018 and West Ham snapped him up.

But he suffered another injury a few months after signing and West Ham’s form picked up in his absence. Wilshere was released in October 2020 having only made 19 appearances for the club. He now plays for Championship side Bournemouth.

Still, he was a brilliant player on his day.

Kieran Gibbs

Gibbs made over 200 appearances for Arsenal, but the arrivals of Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac eventually saw the left-back struggle for first-team opportunities. It came as no surprise when he joined West Brom in 2017.

He became a firm part of the West Brom yo-yo brigade, having experienced two relegations and one promotion with the club.

After their relegation, Gibbs signed for Inter Miami in July 2021.

Vito Mannone

Mannone made 23 appearances for Arsenal between 2006 and 2013 without ever once suggesting he’d become first choice.

The goalkeeper, signed from Atalanta as a 17-year-old, left the Emirates in search of more regular starts and moved to Sunderland for an undisclosed fee.

There was plenty of opportunity for shot-saving practise as Sunderland were involved in a relegation battle in each of Mannone’s four seasons in the north east.

But the player himself was fairly blameless for their plight and few begrudged him a move after Sunderland’s 2017 demotion. Mannone is now on Monaco’s books and made nine appearances during the 2020-21 season.

Gael Clichy

Clichy’s move to Manchester City in 2011 came during the era Arsenal were used as Sheikh Mansour’s corner shop.

The French full-back made his Gunners debut in 2003 and went on to establish himself as a regular at Arsenal following Ashley Cole’s move to Chelsea.

He won another two Premier League medals with City and is now playing for Servette in Switzerland.

Armand Traore

Traore never really recovered from his part in the infamous 8-2 defeat to Manchester United in August 2011.

He joined QPR literally two days after and almost played a big role in the 2011-12 title race, with an assist to put QPR ahead at Manchester City on that memorable final day.

The full-back bounced around the Championship with Nottingham Forest and Cardiff City after leaving Loftus Road. He was last seen playing for Caykur Rizespor in Turkey.

Speaking to talkSPORT in 2020, he said: “I would love to go back out there and be happy again playing football. I’m training hard every day to get back out there. I’m dying to play again.”

Justin Hoyte

Hoyte made his top-flight debut in a win at Birmingham in November 2003 and would go on to play more than 60 times for Arsenal in all competitions before leaving for Middlesbrough in 2008.

The Trinidad & Tobago international moved to the United States, after time at Milwall and Dagenham & Redbridge, in 2017 and played two seasons in the USL with FC Cincinnati before remaining with the club for their inaugural season in MLS.

They rejected the opportunity to extend Hoyte’s contract and the full-back is currently unattached.

Fabrice Muamba

The midfielder idolised Patrick Vieira during his time at Highbury before moving to Birmingham in 2007. He spoke to us about his experiences.

READ: Football Firsts: Fabrice Muamba on Man Utd, Vieira & the 2006 CL final


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