Marc Overmars, Emmanuel Petit, Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, Thierry Henry, Alexander Hleb, Cesc Fabregas and last summer Alex Song have all made the switch from Arsenal to Barcelona during Arsene Wenger’s time in North London.
Now it is being reported that current club captain Thomas Vermaelen may emerge as a transfer target for the Catalan giants in 2013 which would be another massive loss of talent to the La Liga leaders.
So why is it such a popular switch? It is hard to find a similar situation between any other top teams in opposing countries.
The answer in one respect is simple; especially in recent years. Barcelona is a far more successful side than Arsenal. Not to mention more popular. Their success in the past thirty years has been vast and in recent years; the years of Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi that success has only become greater.
The fact remains that players want to play for Barcelona because of the clubs long and illustrious history, footballing philosophy and, perhaps the biggest reason of all, to win trophies; and plenty of them.
Since vacating Arsenal for Barcelona players have gone on to win a grand total of 19 medals in the Blaugrana.
So why do Barca target Arsenal players?
Firstly there is the simple answer that the two both operate with similar footballing philosophies. Both retain possession well and encourage a high technical ability and passing attributes. Indeed the word tiki-taka springs to mind. The partnership has not only been one-way traffic. Fabregas left Barca for England as have several other young talents like Hector Bellerin and Jon Toral.
So Arsenal players are often a ready-made fit for the Barca system and vice-versa; but that cannot be all there is to it can it?
Well the other reason is simple as well; Arsenal sell. You can be sure there was plenty of other players in the pipeline at the Nou Camp this summer but they knew Arsenal had failed to manage the contract of Song correctly and therefore he was available at a cut-price that they were willing to spend; and Arsenal could not refuse.
The combination of Arsenal’s not-so-strict transfer policy and the philosophical likeness between the two sides will always mean the more successful of the clubs will constantly try to prey on the other.
Consider Alex Song as the last Arsenal-to-Barca transfer at your peril; as the likes of Vermaelen, Cazorla and perhaps most worryingly Wilshere will one day have their name linked with a move to the Nou Camp.
Judging on previous keeping them may be harder than it seems.
Do you think others could be on their way to Barcelona?
image: © ins11thiago