This week we focus on two players who irreparably tarnished their reputations with Arsenal supporters due to their choice of destination and the manner of their exit. This pair never won silverware during their time with the Gunners, and despite having lifted some at other clubs during their career, they never consistently replicated the form that saw rival clubs come in for them.
Every time they’ve come up against Arsenal, be it home or away, they have been on the receiving end of a lot of stick from Gooners who used to chant their names in a positive light. I am of course talking about Emmanuel Adebayor and Samir Nasri.
Adebayor spent three-and-a-half years with Arsenal, joining the club in the January 2006 transfer window. The striker would go on to establish himself as a prolific goal-scorer following the departure of Thierry Henry, winning African Player of the Year in 2008. It was during this time he began to attract interest across Europe.
Adebayor and his agent had talked up the possibility of a move to AC Milan or Barcelona in the summer of 2008, but no deal materialised after Milan claimed they were priced out of a move and Barcelona never made an offer.
The following summer however Manchester City made a concrete offer, and once it was clear to Wenger that his head had been turned, the Frenchman sanctioned a £25m transfer to the northerners. It was not long until the former fan favourite was to become one of the most hated ex-players amongst the Gunners faithful.
The Togo international had started life in Manchester well, netting in his first three matches before Arsenal visited the Etihad in his fourth game. Adebayor scored and went on to run the full length of the pitch to celebrate in front of the furious away support, before being dragged away by another former Gunner, Kolo Toure. He also managed to alienate his former teammates, stamping on Robin van Persie’s head while Alex Song and Cesc Fabregas alleged that he had aimed slaps and stamps at them respectively. Adebayor would receive a three game ban and a fine for his actions.
Adebayor would fall down the pecking order behind Tevez, Balotelli and Dzeko in his second season, with Roberto Mancini having taken over from Mark Hughes. He was allowed to join Real Madrid on loan in January 2011, where he would end up winning the only trophy in his career to date – the Copa del Rey – scoring in the semi-final and coming on as a substitute in the 1-0 win over Barcelona in the final.
The former Monaco man wished to make his loan permanent, but Real Madrid appeared to not want the same and never submitted a bid. This would lead to him joining Tottenham on a season-long loan instead, joining them permanently the following summer – another move that would do little to endear him to Arsenal fans.
During his time in the wrong side of north London, Adebayor would score against Arsenal twice at the Emirates, but his former side would have the last laugh, winning both games 5-2. In the second of these games Adebayor was sent off for a reckless tackle on Santi Cazorla shortly after putting Spurs 1-0 up.
He went on to be released by mutual consent in September 2015, and was without club for over three months before linking up with Crystal Palace. He only managed a single goal in his 12 league appearances, and the Eagles opted against extending the deal.
Another long period without a club followed, during which there were bizarre reports of him smoking and requesting whisky in a meeting with Lyon manager Bruno Genesio. Finally, six months after leaving Palace, Adebayor joined Turkish Super Lig side Istanbul Basaksehir in January this year, where he has netted six goals in nine league games so far.
Despite never appearing to be the most technically gifted footballer, Adebayor’s performances while with Arsenal were arguably the best he ever managed. If he had resisted the money on offer at City back in 2009, both he and the Gunners may have had more major honours to their names.
A lot was expected of Samir Nasri when he arrived in London from Marseille in 2008. His first two seasons were decent enough, but it was in his third season in 2010/11 that he really took off and showed how good he can be. Arsene Wenger had told the midfielder to use his exclusion from France’s 2010 World Cup squad as motivation going into the new season, and it appeared to work a treat.
This led to a familiar foe, Manchester City, to swoop in to secure Nasri’s services however after the end of a fruitful campaign where he finished as runner up in both the PFA Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards (losing out on the latter to a certain Jack Wilshere). After a protracted transfer saga during which Wenger had insisted Nasri would stay, the player himself made it clear he didn’t want to be there and a £25m bid was accepted.
Nasri made regular appearances during their title winning campaigns in 2011/12 and 2013/14, but never quite recaptured his form discovered at Arsenal despite glimpses, with Roberto Mancini admitting at one point he could punch him for his inconsistency. This meant that Nasri was not always a starter, and was often utilised as an impact substitute.
As time went on, the Frenchman’s appearances for the Citizens became less frequent, and when Pep Guardiola took the reins at the Etihad last summer, he was shipped out on loan to Sevilla for the season. His spell in Spain went downhill after a strong start, and he only managed three goals in 30 games. He was sent off for a headbutt on Jamie Vardy in the Champions League second round second leg tie against Leicester, which helped ensure his side were knocked out of the competition. The Spaniards had an option to buy Nasri in the loan deal, but chose not to exercise it.
City let Nasri move to Antalyaspor for just €3.5m before the end of this summer’s transfer window, where he scored on his Super Lig debut.
Nasri probably enjoyed his best-ever season in terms of personal performances in his final year at Arsenal in 2010/11, scoring 15 in all competitions and assisting four. The amount of goals he scored that year amounted to almost a quarter of his career total. He would argue that he didn’t leave for money, but if he had stayed he might have been still playing for Arsenal rather than in the Super Lig at the age of 30, when he should still be at his peak.