At times in their Arsenal careers, Andrey Arshavin and Nicklas Bendtner were held in pretty high esteem but they both now leave with a huge feeling of what could have been surrounding the club.
Bendtner progressed into the first team at Arsenal in 2005 after a very brief spell with the youth team having signed for the Gunners from Kjobenhavns Boldklub in Denmark.
His height, power and pace immediately led to the excitement that he could become one of Arsenal’s great centre forwards and the four-year period sandwiched in between loans to Birmingham City and Sunderland allowed him a chance to fulfil that.
However, he never quite got going at Arsenal despite the fact he once described himself as one of the best strikers in the world.
“If you ask me if I am one of the best strikers in the world, I say yes because I believe it. When I see that other strikers score a lot of goals, I realise I need to score those goals,” he told the Daily Mail in 2010.
Three years on and he’s done nothing to prove that he was, is or ever will be anywhere near the level of other top strikers around global football.
In terms of his goals, Arsenal can certainly cope without him because while he produced some important strikes in his tally of 22 in 99 games for the club, that’s certainly not prolific.
The Gunners and Arsene Wenger love to see young players rise through the ranks, so his inability to fulfill the hype he once created has of course been disapppointing.
However, Bendtner’s failed potential is arguably not as frustrating as the way Andrey Arshavin’s career with the club panned out.
The Russian came into the Premier League with Arsenal in the winter transfer window of 2009 and instantly became a hit with the club, scoring four goals in a match against Liverpool shortly after completing his multi-million pound deal.
He joined from Zenit St Petersburg with a growing reputation as one of the most talented midfielders in European football, gifted on the ball and having given England plenty of first hand international experience over his ability.
His four-year spell with the club produced 31 goals in just over 140 appearances and at times he seemed to fit in with Arsene Wenger’s philosophy and style at Arsenal perfectly.
However, there were always lingering questions over Arshavin because he was a very difficult character to read at times, giving nothing and everything away in his body language.
His age made his consistency disappointing because it would have been understandable had he arrived at the club as a naïve and under developed youngster looking to make his way in the game.
Bendtner always had that air of arrogance and self confidence and it was disappointing that he never backed it up, but Arshavin has to be the greater disappointment because he had the potential to become one of the club’s truly great midfielders.
Who do you think is the bigger disappointment for Arsenal fans?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald