What happened to the 18 players sold by Unai Emery at Arsenal

Unai Emery’s time at Arsenal won’t exactly be looked back on with too much fondness by Arsenal fans.

It was always going to be a tough act to follow Arsene Wenger, even with Le Professeur’s struggles in his final years at the club.

In just a year and a half in charge, Emery made a number of key transfer decisions as he tried to put his own stamp on the Arsenal squad. He is credited for promoting the likes of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe to the first team, as well as signing Gabriel Martinelli, all of whom have become fan favourites in north London.

However, he’s also been condemned for letting the likes of Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey go, both of whom were considered to be ‘Arsenal through and through’.

By the end of his tenure, there was a consensus that he needed to move on, but many stilll do wish him well.

Here’s a look at what the 18 players Emery sold have been up to since.

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Jack Wilshere

Every Arsenal fan knew the Wilshere love affair would end someday – somewhat prematurely, too.

Still, they hoped Emery would consider keeping him on a pay-to-play basis after he broke back into Wenger’s side in the months prior to the Spaniard’s arrival.

Wilshere joined West Ham on a free transfer after being released but has since parted ways with the Hammers following several more injury problems.

Then, after a lengthy time as a free agent, Wilshere returned to AFC Bournemouth – where he had spent a year on loan – on a short-term contract but was released at the end of the 2020/21 season.

Santi Cazorla

Fans were saddened to see Cazorla leave in July 2018 but there was little they could do when the Spaniard asked to be released from his contract following career-threatening injuries.

His return to Villarreal was a successful one and his performances even earned him a recall to the Spanish national team.

He has since signed for Al Sadd to play under Barcelona legend and former teammate Xavi, and has once again shown why he was considered to be one of the most gifted midfielders of the Emirates era.

Jeff Reine-Adelaide

Emery let Reine-Adelaide walk for just £2million when he made his loan move to Angers a permanent one in the summer of 2018.

After an impressive season with them, he joined Lyon in a deal worth £24million, and has shown why he was once tipped to be the next big thing at Arsenal.

Chuba Akpom

Another of Hale End’s graduates, Akpom never really got going in the senior team but still managed to become an Invincible after winning the Greek Superleague with PAOK without losing a game in the 2018/19 season.

It was the club’s first league title in 34 years.

Lucas Perez

Perez followed Wilshere to West Ham in a deal worth £4m in 2018, but the striker failed to make an impact at the London Stadium and moved to Deportivo Alaves that same year.

Former Arsenal man Lucas Perez.
Former Arsenal man Lucas Perez.

Despite initially hitting the ground running with Alaves, he only managed to hit the net four times in LaLiga last season.

Joel Campbell

After six loans in seven years, Campbell’s Arsenal career finally came to an end when he was sold to Italian side Frosinone in 2018.

The Costa Rica winger made just 11 starts before being loaned to Mexican outfit Leon, whom he has since made a permanent move to.

Josh Dasilva

Brentford benefitted from Arsenal’s poor handling of contracts when they signed Dasilva for free in 2018.

He’s been an instrumental part of their success since and we can expect to see more of what he’s made of in the Premier League next season.

Gedion Zelalem

Another player tipped for greatness at the Emirates, Zelalem wasn’t fancied by Emery and after making zero first-team appearances, he was allowed to join Kansas City in the MLS in March 2019.

That wasn’t exactly a success either and he has since moved to New York City in a free transfer.

Aaron Ramsey

Perhaps the most controversial departure under Emery, Ramsey signed for Juventus on a free transfer in 2019 after spending 11 years in north London.

Letting him go was arguably the Spaniard’s biggest mistake and the Gunners still haven’t properly replaced his goals from midfield.

He hasn’t had the easiest time in Turin but has still won a handful of major honours, including the Serie A title.

Laurent Koscielny

Arsenal fans know what it’s like to see a captain leave but it was still surprising to see Koscielny deny to take part in the club’s pre-season tour of the USA in order to push through a move to Bordeaux.

The 35-year-old was a regular in his first season at the club but is reportedly looking to move on after the club broke promises to him.

Danny Welbeck

Another high-profile exit under Emery.

The club allowed him to take a short trip across the London Colney training ground to Watford for nothing in the 2019 summer, but the club were relegated the following season.

Welbeck has since found some form under Graham Potter at Brighton and is preparing himself for a further season in the Premier League.

Stephan Lichtsteiner

Having arrived at the Emirates to be a steady hand in the Arsenal defence, Lichtsteiner departed in the summer of 2019 just a year after he arrived.

He joined German side Augsburg immediately after that but has since decided to retire after nearly 20 years as a professional.

Krystian Bielik

Despite never making a Premier League appearance for the Gunners, fans were disappointed to see Bielik leave the club permanently when he joined Derby County for around £10m.

The Polish international has showed glimpses of his potential in the Championship, but after a difficult 2020/21 campaign, which saw Derby survive on the final day, it’s fair to say Arsenal may have actually got value for money this time around.

Alex Iwobi

Arguably the best sale Emery made was that of Iwobi.

The winger hasn’t really hit new heights at Everton since moving in a deal worth £34m and his replacement, Saka, has stepped up to win Arsenal’s Player of the Season award.

A win-win.

David Ospina

After spending Emery’s first season out on loan at Napoli, Ospina made his move permanent in 2019.

The Colombian initially split time with 24-year-old Alex Meret, but became the team’s first-choice goalkeeper under Gennaro Gatusso due to his superior ability with the ball at his feet.

Nacho Monreal

A few eyebrows were raised when Emery allowed Monreal to join Real Sociedad.

The Spaniard scored on his competitive debut for his new side and helped them to win the Copa del Rey in the same season.

He’s shown the kind of consistency that earned him so much respect at the Emirates, and Arsenal fans certainly hope that can continue.

The summer window is officially open, and it’s going to be tough to keep up with the comings and goings in and out of the Emirates.

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Takuma Asano

You would be forgiven for forgetting Asano was ever an Arsenal player as the Japanese forward never played for the Gunners due to issues with his work permit.

The club decided to cut its losses when Partizan Belgrade came knocking in August of 2019, which is where he remains now.

Carl Jenkinson

Jenkinson fulfilled his childhood dream of playing for Arsenal but there were few complaints when he eventually left for Nottingham Forest.

The 29-year-old has struggled to hit the ground at the City Ground as injuries have halted his time there too.

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