Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes he was within touching distance of building a team capable of winning multiple trophies – only for his star names to scupper his dreams by demanding transfers.
An array of key players have left Emirates Stadium in recent years and, although Wenger recently said his current squad is superior to last season’s, he feels the sales have had a major impact on his team.
"I was close to building a team that would have had more than enough quality to win trophies," Wenger said. "Fabregas, Adebayor, Van Persie and Nasri playing together would have been very successful, but we lost them all in a short period.
"It’s has been so frustrating to see a young player come to Arsenal, make their Premier League debut with us, prove themselves to be top players and then go somewhere else. My judgement on them was proved to be right, but another team is getting the benefit.
"The problem has been that there has been nothing we could have done to stop this. I don’t want to go back over the reasons why we have been forced to sell these players, but it has been taken out of our control and it is hard to accept."
Wenger’s transfer misery has persuaded him to change his approach, with the manager who fielded the first all-foreign squad in the Premier League setting his sights on moulding an Arsenal team oozing with local talent, as he seeks to uncover a way to hold on to his carefully nurtured starlets.
"It feels like we have had to start all over again after so many top quality players left us, and we are building a new team using a fresh mentality, with a core of British players who should have more association with a local club," Wenger said.
"We have Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Carl Jenkinson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain coming through now and they can all grow up having an affinity for Arsenal. Maybe then they will stay here longer if they are tempted to move.
"Look at what happened with Fabregas. He was grateful for what we did to him and developed a real love for Arsenal, but he could not resist Barcelona when they came for him as it was his club. This is what happens when you have a foreign player: at some point, he will always want to move on."