Arsene Wenger names Ashley Cole as the player he regretted losing most and says Arsenal transfer exit was over ‘a few thousand pounds’.
A home-grown product of the club’s famed academy system took in 228 appearances for the north London outfit after stepping onto a senior stage, claiming two Premier League titles, three FA Cup crowns and the first of his 107 caps for England.
Widely regarded as the best left-back in world football when performing at the peak of his powers, Cole became a superstar at Arsenal but made a controversial switch to Chelsea in 2006 after Wenger and Co were unable to agree a new contract.
Cole was believed to have received a deal worth £120,000 a week from Chelsea and Wenger regrets not matching the Blues’ offer.
“I would say, most of the time the players gave us seven, eight, nine years and left after.
“The younger generation, like [Cesc] Fabregas, we lost early and would not have loved to lose him.
“The player who I think internally was a mistake to lose was Ashley Cole because he was playing at nine or 10 years old for the club.
“I knew that Fabregas, taking him away from Barcelona, at some stage he would want to go back to Barcelona. But Ashley Cole came out of the club and I think it was a misunderstanding for a few thousand pounds.
“At the time, it was when [Roman] Abramovich came in to the game and Ashley Cole is one of the few players that developed even more and continued to develop when he left.”
Cole was an England international and a pivotal player for the Gunners – and arguably someone they failed to replace.
And his career reached great heights after making the move across London as Cole went on to claim another Premier League title and four more FA Cups with Chelsea, along with League Cup, Champions League and Europa League triumphs.