Life goes on after leaving big guns

Life goes on after leaving big guns

Published Jan. 19, 2012 12:00 a.m. ET

Bobby McMahon is the lead analyst for FOX Soccer Report, airing nightly at 10:00 p.m. ET on FOX Soccer Channel.

The sale of two of their star players last summer should not have come as a surprise to Arsenal fans. During the Wenger-era the club has been more than willing sellers when the price and circumstances have been right.

The likes of Paul Merson, Emmanuel Petit, Marc Overmars, Nicolas Anelka, Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry have all been ushered out the door, having been wished well in their future endeavors.

With the exception of Anelka, the others were allowed to leave once Arsene Wenger decided that their best days were a thing of the past.


But like Anelka, Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri's best days are still to come.

Before Fabregas and Nasri it was accepted that when Arsenal sold young players it was because they were not good enough.

It was a trait shared with Manchester United, and it was a segment of the transfer market that the two clubs have dominated in the last decade. The transfer of Darron Gibson to Everton from United is the latest in a long line of younger players being "tossed overboard."

Ryan Shawcross has florished at Stoke since leaving Old Trafford. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

But many have gone on to prove that not being good enough for Manchester United or Arsenal does not mean the end, and they have bobbed to surface along the Premier League coastline.

Ryan Shawcross was on United's books between 2002-8, although during that time he never played a first-team league game. He was loaned initially to Royal Antwerp in Belgium and then to Stoke City. His transfer to the Potters was made permanent in 2008, with a fee of around $3 million changing hands. Shawcross has now made more than 100 appearances for Stoke.

In four seasons between 2003-7 David Jones made four first-team league appearances for Manchester United while being loaned out three different times. He was transferred to Derby in 2007 for $1.5 million and then to Wolves the next year for about the same amount. Last summer, Jones signed for Wigan on a Bosman transfer.

Chris Eagles scored for Manchester United against Everton during the run-in for the 2007 Premier League title. It was his only goal in six first-team league appearances for United. A year later he was sold to Championship side Burnley and he helped the side gain promotion to Premier League.

Kieran Richardson spent five seasons at Old Trafford, but like Arsenal reject Sebastian Larsson is making a name for himself at Sunderland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Last summer he was reunited with his old Burnley boss Owen Coyle at Bolton, and he has been a regular feature of the side this season.

Kieran Richardson was further along in the cycle when Sir Alex Ferguson decided he had had enough. A five-year career with the Old Trafford club also saw Richardson play a role in West Brom escaping relegation while on-loan in 2005. He lasted another two seasons before a $9 million bid from Sunderland was accepted.

Other Manchester United Premier League alumni include Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (Wolves), Phil Bardsley and Fraizer Campbell (Sunderland), Danny Higginbotham (Stoke) and Danny Simpson (Newcastle).

Fabrice Muamba was part of the Arsenal system for five seasons, but his appearances were limited to the Carling Cup. A loan move to Birmingham in 2006 turned into a permanent deal in 2007. A year later he moved to Bolton for a fee of around $8 million, and he has become a first-team regular in a defensive midfield role.

Although he started with Servette of the Swiss League, Philippe Senderos agreed to sign for Arsenal as a 17-year-old. His early promise gave way to some dodgy performances, and the name Didier Drogba is likely to generate a nervos twitch from the Swiss center back. Senderos failed to earn a permanent deal at first Milan and then Everton while on-loan.

Eventually Fulham signed him on a Bosman in the summer of 2010. Although troubled with injuries during his Cottagers’ spell, Senderos appears to have the confidence of manager Martin Jol. He may turn out to be the defender many thought he might become.

Sebastian Larsson is Sunderland's top scorer this season with six goals. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

A 16-year-old Sebastian Larsson caught the attention of the Arsenal scouting department in 2001. However, his six-year spell at the club brought precious few first- team opportunities. A loan deal to Birmingham turned into a permanent arrangement. Relegation at the end of last season also saw Larsson's contract expire and he joined Sunderland on a free transfer. He is the club's top scorer this season with six.

Jerome Thomas found his path to first-team football barred by too many experienced international players at Arsenal. After three years, he moved to Charlton for a pittance. During his spell at The Valley he represented Charlton on more than 100 occasions, before transferring to Portsmouth. His time on the south coast was largely unsuccessful and he was released. He signed for West Brom in 2009.

Other former Arsenal youth products currently in the employ of Premier League teams include Steve Sidwell (Fulham), Stewart Taylor (Manchester City - he has made less than 70 first appearances covering eight teams in 15 years), David Bentley (currently perfecting his hair at West Ham, on loan from Spurs) and Armand Traore (QPR).