In the modern game, one of the things almost every club aims to avoid is losing a key player on a free transfer.
The Bosman ruling has increased the amount of power that players possess, while it also opens clubs to the possibility of losing one of their stars to a rival team.
In the case of Arsenal, seeing players leave the Emirates Stadium and join Manchester City has been something of a regular occurrence in the last decade. The likes of Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy have all opted to depart North London in favour of a move to the Etihad Stadium.
However, one star that riled the Gunners hierarchy with his move to City was Bacary Sagna.
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The France international was in the last six months of his contract with the Emirates Stadium club at the start of 2014 and rejected a chance to extend with Arsene Wenger’s men.
Instead, the experienced right-back opted to see out his deal and move to City on a free transfer.
At the time the decision was seen as a real blow for Arsenal, with Wenger previously having labelled Sagna as the best right-back in the Premier League.
The former Auxerre defender had been with the Gunners for seven years and his decision to leave North London was in an ambition to win regular silverware. Sagna’s departure signified the continuation of Arsenal losing a host of their best players to Premier League rivals and suggested that Wenger’s men did not have the power to keep hold of their top stars.
Fast forward to the current day and Sagna’s exit could now be viewed as a blessing in disguise. The Frenchman’s decision to leave the London club provided an opportunity for current right-back and prodigious talent Hector Bellerin to win a spot in the Arsenal side.
The young Spaniard has excelled since being given the nod by Wenger and is quickly becoming one of the best players in his position in the English game.
As Arsenal defeated City on Monday night, Sagna and his successor were pitted against one another and it was clear to see who looked like the more-rounded player. While the 32-year-old seems to be starting to show his age, Bellerin is quick, decisive and a threat going forward.
Theo Walcott and Nacho Monreal had a field day against their former team-mate and it was no coincidence that both of the North London hosts’ goals came from breaks down Sagna’s flank.
Interestingly, if you gave all the Arsenal players that have departed to join City the chance to go back in time and alter their decision, they all would surely seriously consider it.
Although the likes of Clichy and Nasri have tasted Premier League success with the Manchester club, not many have been able to tie down a regular first-team spot and were more impressive individually during their time in North London.
For Sagna, it remains to be seen whether he will experience success at City, while Arsenal look like a title challenger with Bellerin filling their right-back role.