Arsene Wenger regrets sale of Arsenal's star players

Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Alex Song all left the club in recent years

Manager Arsene Wenger will always regret not being able to realise the potential of his Arsenal squad over the past two years when key men were sold.

Arsenal's quest for a first trophy since 2005 suffered another blow last night when they were beaten on penalties by npower League Two Bradford at Valley Parade in the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup.

After guiding Arsenal to earlier great success, Wenger's plans to build a team capable of sustaining a challenge for honours were shattered by the departures of Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Alex Song.

In a wide-ranging interview with the January edition of Four Four Two magazine, conducted before yesterday's loss at Bradford, Wenger admits there will always be a sense of what might have been if the club had been able to retain their talent.

"My regret is that we already had a great team two or three years ago which could compete on four fronts," Wenger said.

"We just missed out in the Champions League [last 16 tie] against Barcelona, when we could have scored in the last minute, and then we just missed out on the Premier League too.

"But you could feel the potential was there, and I thought, 'Okay, let's do this together'. Then the team split up, sometimes after five or six years' work, it is frustrating, you have to start all over again."

Wenger added: "We have lost recent players earlier in their careers - to lose Van Persie, Fabregas, Nasri and Song in just two years, it is a massive amount of potential, of course you worry."

Following Arsenal's decision to leave Highbury in 2006 for the 60,000-seater Emirates Stadium, the north London club found themselves having to battle the financial commitments to the move as well as the seemingly bottomless pockets of rivals including Manchester City and Chelsea.

Wenger turned 63 in October and his position has come under increasing scrutiny this season.

The Frenchman, whose contract runs until June 2014, feels he must remain true to the values he inherited when taking over more than a decade ago.

He said: "I am not saying I never made mistakes. I was fortunate to work for this club for 16 years and I hope I respected the traditions of this club. I feel fortunate, but I think somewhere as well I tried at least pay the club back with the trust they had in me."

Arsenal have long championed their self-sustaining business model.

Chief executive Ivan Gazidis maintains it is a philosophy which will give Arsenal an edge on the pitch, with UEFA's financial fair play regulations soon to kick in.

"Let's be clear - we don't see Champions League qualification as enough, we are proud of our record, but we want to do more, and we will," Gazidis told Four Four Two.

"Irrespective of financial fair play's impact, we will be among the top five most financially powerful clubs in the world by 2014, that is when we will really start competing."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future