Arsenal are one of England's biggest and most illustrious clubs and therefore have played host to some of the best players to ever grace the Premier League.

A strong recruitment strategy paired with a revolutionary manager helped them largely dominate alongside Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United for years, and since Arsene Wenger's retirement, Mikel Arteta now seems poised to lead them into a bright future once again.

However, across the last few decades of relative success, there have unsurprisingly been plenty of missteps too that managers and the hierarchy will regret. Whether it be a failed transfer, a tactical decision or just a poor refereeing performance, the Gunners have been prone to some bouts of misfortune that certainly have been exacerbated since the Frenchman's departure.

Unai Emery was a big sufferer of this, and whilst their current 41-year-old boss struggled at the start, a show of faith has since started to reward the club handsomely. A summer of big spending helped solidify their progress, although the window was largely dominated by a transfer saga involving their north London rivals.

Had things been different and they had trusted the process with the star striker in question, perhaps it could have been them touting his services for big money or keeping him around to spearhead a title push.

Before lambasting the failures of the past though, it is first worth showcasing the alternative success enjoyed with which to compare their touted blunder.

After all, the acquisition of Robin van Persie was certainly one that worked out well for Wenger.

How good was Robin van Persie?

Having just been crowned Premier League champions in 2004, the club's stock had never been higher. As such, it was easy to pry the young forward from Feyenoord despite huge interest across Europe, with the now 73-year-old former manager noting: "Robin is a great young talent and a fantastic signing for the club

"He has shown great potential at both club and U21 international level and will help strengthen our squad considerably. He has a great left foot and is a great passer of the ball with excellent vision. He is a versatile player and is comfortable playing as a striker or on the wing."

It would not take long for the flying Dutchman to adapt to English football, with his tall, slender frame giving him the requisite physicality to battle well with the hulking centre-backs he faced.

Notching five league goals in his debut campaign, such a term merely marked the calm before the storm, as the man who would go on to captain the club soon began hitting huge numbers.


Arsenal's all-time top scorers

Goals scored, via Transfermarkt


Thierry Henry



Ian Wright



Robin van Persie



Dennis Bergkamp



Theo Walcott


The striker would hit double figures for goal contributions in all but his first two years at Highbury (and later the Emirates), with his peak arguably coming in the years before his eventual sale.

His 18 goals and seven assists during the 2010/11 season marked incredible figures, but would somehow surpass them in the final campaign before joining Manchester United for a pitiful £24m.

The ex-Netherlands international scored 30 times and assisted a further 13 in the league, deservedly taking home the PFA Player of the Year award before spearheading a title success at Old Trafford the following term.

Van Persie would make 278 appearances in an Arsenal shirt before that unceremonious exit to challenge for elite honours, but not before Wenger would issue the following praise: "He is a mixture. He is less of a runner than Thierry Henry and he is not completely Dennis Bergkamp because he plays higher up the pitch.

"He is the kind of player, with the type of game we play, who is vital because when you play the ball to his feet his first touch is always perfect and that allows others to join in. It makes everybody dangerous."

To compare the 102-cap marksman to two legends like this just emphasises how highly thought of he remained, and yet they could have arguably had someone even better for nothing.

After all, it is now seemingly common knowledge that, before he became a legend with their rivals Tottenham Hotspur, Harry Kane was a Gooner.

Why did Arsenal let Harry Kane leave?

"I remember the first time we played against Arsenal [for Tottenham's academy] and even back then, I had a chip on my shoulder," the 30-year-old told The Players' Tribune back in 2018, who was released from the Gunners' academy as a child for nothing.

It was the first of many setbacks for the man who would go on to become England's all-time record scorer, but ones that clearly helped define him into the lethal finisher he remains today.

Wenger has Roy Massey to thank for that gaffe, who was the youth coach at the time and would spend 15 years at the club. Speaking to, they were quick to quiz him on that infamous decision: "I thought you'd mention Harry Kane, thanks very much for that," he joked.

"That was Tottenham's gain and Arsenal's loss that one. Oh, what a wonderful player today. But we haven't got a crystal ball and there's a number in that situation at Arsenal who've left and who've gone on and done very well for themselves. Harry was obviously a brilliant example.

"Harry was a technician, a very talented player but did lack some mobility and pace. We did think, perhaps he wouldn't be quite up to playing at Arsenal Football Club. So I had to sit down with his mum and dad, and the lad, and say that he wasn't quite up to the standard of Arsenal."

Whilst it quickly became clear that Massey among others did not rate Kane's chances of turning professional, Liam Brady, who was Arsenal's academy director at the time, was a lot more cutthroat about the reasons behind sanctioning his exit: "He was a bit chubby, he wasn't very athletic but we made a mistake."

It's fair to say he regrets that decision, as he would then claim: "After (Lionel) Messi, (Cristiano) Ronaldo and (Robert) Lewandowski there is him. The numbers say it."

How many goals has Harry Kane scored?

A stellar career he did enjoy with Spurs, the England international actually became the club's all-time record scorer back in February and sits second in the all-time Premier League scoring charts. For comparison, Van Persie is way behind in 13th.

It should hardly come as a surprise to see Statman Dave brand the £100m Bayern Munich forward a "legend of the game", with his continued rise to prominence only exacerbating Arsenal's failures.

The former Leicester City loanee would play 430 times for their north London rivals, scoring a mouth-watering 278 times.

To make matters worse, the 86-cap Englishman's proficiency in the big matches actually led him to become the top scorer in north London derbies too.

Although they enjoyed huge success with Van Persie, had they instead taken a punt on Kane and oversaw his development, perhaps they could have enjoyed an even greater period of success whilst allowing the Lilywhites legend to break records for them.

2023-09-19T05:19:05Z dg43tfdfdgfd