Remember when Arsenal fans loved the Bosman ruling?

After losing Robin Van Persie as his contract came toward an end and Theo Walcott's continued wrangling's over a new deal it is hard to remember a time when the Bosman ruling was responsible for an Arsenal legends arrival in 2001.

It seems hard to believe it now but the Bosman ruling has not always been the scourge of Arsenal FC. In recent years they have allowed players to run dangerously close to the end of their contracts with the current Theo Walcott saga a testament to that fact.

Add to that the loss of Mathieu Flamini a few years back plus the forced sale of Robin Van Persie and potential worry over Bacary Sagna and you have a minefield that Arsenal have become all to use to stepping on the wrong spot in.

However in the not so distant past Arsenal were one of the first clubs to utilise the Bosman ruling on a grand scale. Yes while Edgar Davids and Steve McManaman both tied up big news Bosman’s previously to Sol Campbell the nature of the England centre-backs move from arch-rival’s Tottenham is what made the deal so monumental in British football history.

On this occasion it was Tottenham who were guilty of allowing his contract to run down to its final months, assured by him and his agent that he had no plans of leaving White Hart Lane.

He was offered what would have then made him Spurs highest ever paid footballer yet he stunned pundits, fans and redtops alike when he rejected a deal in order to pursue Champions League football and cement his place in Sven Goran-Eriksson’s England team. Countless big names were mentioned such as Manchester United, Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid but nobody truly thought he would end up where he did.

Arsenal completed one of the biggest coups in British transfer history when they brought Sol Campbell to Highbury from White Hart Lane in the summer of 2001, where he eventually went on to win two Premier League medals and three FA Cup Medals whilst consistently playing in the Champions League, even scoring in the final of 2006. He made over 200 appearances for The Gunners and was even named the ‘15th greatest player in their history’ in a 2008 fan poll.

So while Arsenal now play hard-ball with Theo Walcott while still licking the wounds of the Robin Van Persie saga it is confusing to see a team, club and manager that once utilised the Bosman ruling to such good effect continually trip up on a seemingly trivial matter.

Who is to blame for Arsenal’s continued Bosman issues? The club? The players? The manager?

Who could Arsenal sign on a free transfer next summer however? Here is HITC’s list of 30 potentials.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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