Liverpool take on Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League final tonight, and at least one former Arsenal player will leave Le Parc des Princes with a winners medal around his neck.
The Gunners have never won the Champions League before. We came so close to lifting it in 2006, but two late goals from Samuel Eto’o and Juliano Belletti for Barcelona broke our hearts.
A number of players, however, have left us and gone on to win Europe’s most prestigious club competition with other clubs. Here’s a list of seven such stars who’ve done just that!
7 players who’ve left Arsenal and won the Champions League
In February 1997, Arsene Wenger snapped up a gem from Paris. He signed Anelka from PSG for just £500,000 (Sky Sports), and that, to this day, is one of the greatest deals we’ve ever done.
Anelka spent two years at Arsenal, played 87 games, scored 28 goals and provided 12 assists. He helped us win the double in 1998 and the Community Shield in the following year.
Anelka joined Real Madrid from Arsenal in 1999 for £22.3 million (Sky Sports) and won the Champions League in his debut season there.
Alexander Hleb joined Arsenal from Stuttgart for £10 million in 2005 (Guardian).
He played 130 games for us, scored 10 goals, provided 18 assists and really was a joy to watch.
Hleb left Arsenal and joined Barcelona in 2008 for £12 million (Reuters). Like Anelka, he won the Champions League in his debut season there but did not make the squad in the final.
Hleb has stated on multiple occasions that leaving Arsenal is one of his biggest regrets.
We don’t have say much about this man, do we?
Henry is our greatest ever player, our record goalscorer and an absolute legend of the club. He joined Barcelona for £16 million in 2007 (BBC) and won the Champions League in his second season there.
Unlike Hleb, who wasn’t a part of the game, Henry started the final for Barcelona and helped them beat Manchester United 2-0 to lift the trophy.
Cole was one of our own. He came through the ranks at Arsenal and helped us win two Premier League titles, three FA Cups and four Community Shields.
After a disagreement with the club in 2005, he joined Chelsea. The Blues paid £5 million for Cole plus William Gallas (BBC), who later went on to captain our club.
Cole won the Champions League with Chelsea in 2012 against Bayern Munich, six years after leaving Arsenal.
Arsenal signed Oxlade-Chamberlain from Southampton for £15 million in 2011 (BBC). He was viewed as a future star, but he never quite fulfilled his potential at the Emirates.
The Englishman joined Liverpool in 2017 for £35 million, giving Arsenal a healthy profit then (BBC).
The Ox has won both the Premier League and the Champions League under Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, the latter came against Tottenham in 2019.
Oxlade-Chamberlain could get another winners medal tonight. If he doesn’t, Dani Ceballos, who spent a couple of years on loan at the Emirates, will win his second for Real Madrid.
This may well be Arsenal’s biggest regret.
After not getting regular opportunities at the Emirates, Gnabry left us and joined Werder Bremen in 2016. He then moved to Bayern Munich and after a successful loan spell at Hoffenheim, and he has become a star for the Bavarians.
Gnabry won the Champions League with Bayern in 2020 and he’s now one of the best wingers in the world, just six years after leaving Arsenal.
It looks like he’s set to leave the Allianz Arena in one of the next three transfer windows. Hopefully, he’ll come back to the Emirates.
After being criticised throughout his Arsenal career, Giroud left us and joined Chelsea for £18 million in January 2018 (BBC).
He not only helped them beat us in the final to win the Europa League, but also won the Champions League last year, scoring six goals in the competition that campaign.
He’s the most recent former Arsenal player to lift the Champions League.