Regarded as one of the top talents at La Masia during his time at Barcelona, Fran Merida moved to Arsenal with the hope of being the next Cesc Fabregas but unfortunately, his career in north London just didn’t work out.
After a lengthy court procedure which resulted in Arsenal having to pay a compensation fee to Barcelona, Merida signed his first professional deal at 17 and made his debut in a League Cup win over Newcastle in 2007.
The Spaniard was again used in the League Cup against Sheffield United which would be the second of his only three games for the Gunners in his first year at the club.
In his second season, Merida was sent on loan back to Spain where he managed 17 appearances for Real Sociedad in La Liga 2.
While he did manage to get some game time back in Span, when he returned to England, his career at Arsenal seemed to begin to turn.
Amid an Arsenal team that was going through the post-Invincibles era, Merida struggled to show the talent that had attracted Arsenal to bring him to England.
With Arsene Wenger working under a tight budget and Arsenal’s best players leaving, the Gunners needed a creative midfielder who in tandem with Fabregas could push them back towards the title but it never happened.
In his two remaining seasons with the club, the once highly-rated midfield man only made 13 appearances for the Gunners.
After a failed Arsenal career, Merida made the move back to Spain where he moved to Atletico Madrid but much like his time at Arsenal, his career flopped.
A journey that has taken him to Brazil and back into the second division with Huesca, Merida has now cemented himself with Osasuna.
He’s become a mainstay for the club but has admitted that he regretted leaving Arsenal.
If he’d maybe stayed more patient at Arsenal, the La Masia man may have turned out to have replicated Cesc Fabregas, rather than now being labelled as another failed academy player. Still, moving to England so soon largely put an end to a gifted Spanish technician, during an era in which that kind of player dominated European football.