For a fan, emotional attachment to any player is a function of three things. One, their commitment and dedication to the club. Secondly, the way they leave the club and thirdly, their statements about the club.
Thierry Henry is a case in point. Not only was he an excellent player for Arsenal, inspiring them to that magical Invincibles campaign in 2003-04, he also respected the club. Henry stayed in North London throughout the prime of his playing days before leaving for Barcelona, the only club he said he could have left Arsenal for.
Other players though have received the adulation, only to leave for a rival when a better offer comes along. It may be fair to suggest that these three forwards might not be getting too many Christmas cards from Gunners fans, after their controversial departures.
Robin Van Persie
Arsenal fans wouldn’t have thought that their one true superstar and club captain, Robin Van Persie would one day leave the Emirates for Manchester United. It would never have been possible during the late 1990s and early 2000s, when both clubs shared a heated rivalry. Van Persie might have been disloyal in going to United, but his exit also hinted at a widening gap between the two clubs. Given that he was pivotal in The Red Devils winning the league in his first season, it was a bitter pill to swallow.
Perhaps the most controversial ex-Arsenal player of all time, Emmanuel Adebayor left Arsenal in the summer of 2009 for Manchester City. The Togolese international had been signed from Monaco as a youngster in 2005 but left just four years later under a cloud. He scored in his first game against Arsenal at the City of Manchester stadium, before running the length of the pitch to celebrate it in front of the travelling Arsenal fans. The fact that he later turned out for Tottenham means that he will always be viewed with contempt by some.
The 29-year-old was the one player Arsenal fans could truly lay claim to as their genuine game-changer but the manner he left North London means that despite his best efforts, he will never be forgiven by some Arsenal fans. The Chilean star didn’t sign a new contract, angled for a move away and held the club to ransom. Sanchez has since gone to United, but he is one player that will receive a lot of boos when next he comes to the Emirates as a visiting player.