Henri Lansbury was once destined for great things. He was part of the Arsenal youth team that won the FA youth Cup final in 2009 impressing in a midfield containing Jack Wilshere and Francis Coquelin. Here was a player with huge potential, and ex-players as well as the manager Arsene Wenger continued to rave about the young player, with Wenger insisting that Lansbury ‘will be a big player’.
He then endeared himself to the Arsenal faithful as he scored his first Arsenal goal against Tottenham in the League Cup. In Lansbury’s words, ‘the goal was like a dream’.
He was loaned out to Scunthorpe in 2009, then Watford the season after, followed by Norwich City and West Ham in 2011. Each loan seemed to be successful and he even signed an extension to his current Arsenal contract in 2011 while on loan at West Ham. But competition was fierce in the Arsenal midfield and on his return from his loan spell at West Ham United, Lansbury wanted assurances from the club. Wenger was keen for the youngster to stay, he still felt the youngster was good enough to force himself into the Arsenal squad. Lansbury though wanted regular first team football and not another loan and reluctantly he was sold to Nottingham Forest in 2012 where he went on to make 150 appearances for the club. The midfielder had been excellent at Forest and wanted to stay and it seemed he was wanted by the club, however come January 2017 and with his contract due to end in the summer, Lansbury was sold to Aston Villa for £3m.
Lansbury was a player with fantastic technical ability as well as a high work rate. His passing ability was excellent with great vision and an eye for goal, and his ability to time his runs into the box made Lansbury a perfect Arsenal player. One thing that seemed to go against him was his attitude which at times was questioned on his professionalism and his enjoyment of a night out. But Wenger was first to admit that Lansbury’s qualities were hard to find in the modern game.
Unfortunately for Lansbury and Arsenal it didn’t work out. A player destined for great things for club and country failed to deliver. At only 26, time is still on his side and we may yet see Lansbury back in the Premier League. For a player with so much potential I hope that time is soon.