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Cole, Gnabry: 5 Arsenal academy graduates who flourished after leaving

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Ainsley Maitland-Niles is one of many Arsenal players to come through the club’s famed Hale End academy, though according to rumours, Nottingham Forest want to sign the midfielder.

The newly-promoted Premier League side are believed to be keen on signing the England international this summer, with Maitland-Niles set to depart north London after years of sitting on the sidelines and two loan spells at West Bromwich Albion and more recently AS Roma.

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Indeed, Arsenal’s academy has produced some world-class players over the years, and whilst the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Jack Wilshere and Bukayo Saka have gone on to star for the first team, some simply weren’t cut out for the seniors and departed north London.

However, for a handful of those who left, they proved Arsenal wrong by letting them go, and here are five players who flourished after coming through the north London side’s academy before being sold on.

Ashley Cole

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If there was ever a player Arsenal probably regret letting go of the most, Ashley Cole might just be the number one choice after the defender left for London rivals Chelsea and arguably became one of the defining defenders of the 21st Century.

A left-back who is considered by many as England’s greatest who made 107 caps for the Three Lions, Cole won the UEFA Champions League with the Blues as well as four FA Cup titles, making the defender the most decorated player in the competition’s history with seven titles.

Serge Gnabry

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If Cole is top of the list, then Serge Gnabry is a close second with the German international developing into a world-class attacker since leaving Arsenal for Werder Bremen in a reported deal worth just £5m.

We all know what’s happened since that move. Gnabry is now a regular for Bayern Munich, with the winger this summer set to leave the Bavarian giants as the attacker looks to earn a deal that could earn him up to £250,000-a-week, with Arsenal reportedly in the race to re-sign their former forward.

Wojciech Szczesny

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Wojciech Szczesny, for a time, looked to be Arsenal’s new no. 1 keeper for the next decade or so, yet an infamous smoking incident in the showers after a loss to Southampton all but ruined the Pole’s career in north London, with the keeper heading to Italy on loan.

Unfortunately for the Gunners, the keeper showed his true colours in Serie A with AS Roma, with Szczesny establishing himself as one of the best shot-stoppers in Europe and eventually winning a move to Juventus, replacing the legendary Gianluigi Buffon.

Ismael Bennacer

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Every year there seems to be one Arsenal academy player the majority of the fanbase are obsessed over, with last season seeing Charlie Patino taking that spotlight. And Ismael Bennacer was one such name, and for good reason.

The France-born Algerian international made waves for Arsenal at U-23 level before being sold to Serie A side Empoli in 2017, where two years later the midfielder would sign for AC Milan and last season guide the Italian giants to their first title win in over a decade, with Bennacer now worth close to £30m on Transfermarkt.

Emi Martinez

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Emi Martinez seemed to have burst onto the scene at Arsenal and then disappeared into the night in a blink of an eye, but for the Argentine keeper, becoming a regular for the Gunners was a journey almost ten years in the making.

The shot-stopper guided Arsenal to the 2020 FA Cup after Bernd Leno was ruled out for the remainder of the season through injury, and from there Martinez won a £20m move to Aston Villa where the keeper asserted himself as one of the best in the Premier League and Argentina’s most reliable man between the sticks for some time.

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