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Much has changed at Arsenal since Mesut Ozil made his debut in September 2013, after signing for a club record from Real Madrid.
Ozil made a good first impression, setting Olivier Giroud ready for Game 1 as the Gunners beat Paolo Di Canio’s Sunderland 3-1 at the Stadium of Light before a second-half double from Aaron Ramsey sealed the three points.
The midfielder will be the last of Arsenal’s XIs to leave the club, with the end in sight as Fenerbahce reportedly nears his signing. We’ve taken a look at where everyone is now.
The Polish international was a bit erratic during his early years at Arsenal and was finally shown the door when proven winner Petr Cech arrived from Chelsea.
In hindsight, the decision to let Szczesny leave on a permanent contract has to be questioned, as he had rebuilt his reputation during his two years on loan at Roma.
Szczesny is now a regular title winner with Juventus and returning club legend Gianluigi Buffon has to settle for being a second fiddle.
READ: Ranking of all Arsenal goalkeepers from Jens Lehmann from worst to best
A Gunners fan since childhood, the right-back earned a dream move from Charlton to the Emirates in 2011, but could never bet on being a regular starter.
After a series of assignments away from the club, he finally left Arsenal in 2019 and signed with Championship Nottingham Forest.
READ: How TWO Arsenal outfielders ended up on loan at West Ham
The right-back hasn’t played since 2019, last seen on the MLS team Montreal Impact after passing through Benevento and Manchester City. He has not ruled out returning to the field, but it seems increasingly unlikely.
“For me personally, if they wanted me to stay, I would have stayed,” Sagna told Goal in March 2020 as he reflected on his departure from Arsenal. “But I didn’t feel like they did everything they could to make me stay.
“I didn’t expect them to run after me, but at least I expected them to show me a little love and make me feel like they wanted me to stay a year before the end of the same contract I’d held for six years without asking for a penny more.” .
A loyal servant of the club for nearly a decade, Koscielny won three FA Cup titles with Arsenal.
The center-back left under a cloud after forcing a return to France in the summer of 2019 and is now in his second season in Bordeaux.
Gibbs, a Lambeth-born academy graduate, left Arsenal after 10 seasons in and around the first team in 2017, having made more than 200 appearances.
He was signed by West Brom and has been with the Hawthorns ever since, with the Boing Boing Baggies living up to their nickname during that time. A second decline in four years appears to be at stake.
Wilshere’s last game for his childhood club was also Arsene Wenger’s – a 5-0 win over Burnley. Released shortly thereafter, he left Arsenal after 17 years and signed a two-year contract with West Ham.
After being hampered by injury issues, he was released again in late 2019-20 and remains a free agent. The 29-year-old is currently training with Bournemouth, where he spent the 2016-17 campaign on loan.
Two second-half goals from Ramsey helped Arsenal on their way to their 3-1 victory at the Stadium of Light that day, and he continued to be an important player for years to come, most notably in his FA Cup triumphs in 2014, 2015. and 2017.
Ultimately, he ended his contract and left with a free transfer in 2019, with Juventus taking advantage as they usually do.
The Wales international was only a fringe player under Maurizio Sarri, as the club won a ninth consecutive Scudetto in 2019-20, but is playing a much more prominent role with Andrea Pirlo.
READ: Seven of Aaron Ramsey’s best moments at Arsenal: FA Cup, Liverpool, Spurs
You won’t find a better story than Flamini in any ‘where are they now?’ list anywhere. Asking for time in his second season at Arsenal in 2016, he subsequently ended his playing career with spells at Crystal Palace and Getafe.
But long before his retirement as a player, he co-founded the geoenergy company GF Biochemicals, which takes his approach today. His business ventures have been incredibly lucrative, although he has downplayed reports that he is now a billionaire.
An enthusiastic environmentalist, he also launched a sustainable and vegan personal care brand together with Ozil in 2018.
“Growing up by the sea, I was able to see from a very early age the impact of plastics in the water, on the beach,” he told The Guardian in August 2020.
“It’s scary and it makes you realize that if we don’t change something, the place where we live will no longer be habitable. He was very aware of everything, very curious.
“I always said to myself: ‘If I do something else afterwards outside of football, I want it to be around sustainability.’
– Mathieu Flamini (@mathieuflamini) December 27, 2020
Theo Walcott (Nacho Monreal, 89)
Walcott is now back where it all began, having left Southampton for Arsenal at the age of 16 in 2006.
He scored 108 goals in 397 appearances for the Gunners, but still celebrated when he scored for the Saints at the Emirates in December 2020.
“Scoring a goal, no matter who you play with, is one of the best feelings and I scored a lot of goals here,” he said after the game. “But playing for Southampton is huge for me, so scoring a goal, why not? Why not celebrate?
You know what? Fair play.
Monreal made more than 250 appearances and became a fan favorite during his six and a half year stint in North London, but decided to return to his native Spain with Real Sociedad in 2019.
READ: How the football gods conspired to deny Theo Walcott the status of Arsenal hero
Olivier Giroud (Chuba Akpom, 90)
The indefatigable Giroud continues to drift away, proving himself worthy of a start at Chelsea amid competition from Tammy Abraham and Timo Werner.
The 34-year-old forward recently surpassed Michel Platini on France’s all-time top scorers list and is now just seven away from equaling Thierry Henry’s record for Les Bleus.
Like Ozil, Akpom was also making his debut against Sunderland, but only made 11 other appearances with the club and now plays for Middlesbrough.
Mesut Ozil (Thomas Vermaelen, 80 years old)
In the final months of his lucrative contract with Arsenal, Ozil’s days at the Emirates are numbered. Left out of his Premier League squad for 2020-21, it’s been a bit sad to see him become a fan tweeting his support from outside.
It’s not the ending he deserved, with some impressive highlights from his time at the club.
After making only 34 La Liga appearances during his five years in Barcelona, Vermaelen joined the Japanese Vissel Kobe in 2019, reuniting with his former Arsenal teammate Lukas Podolski.
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