Arsenal’s 15 worst signings of all time
Goal takes a look at the worst signings Arsenal have made over the years – from the likes of Francis Jeffers to Denilson
Arsenal have signed some world-class players in their long and illlustrious history, many of whom arrived during past two decades under manager Arsene Wenger.
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But for every Thierry Henry or Alexis Sanchez who has rocked up in north London, there has been a Francis Jeffers or a Denilson, dire under-performers who, in some cases, were acquired at great cost only to be sold without ever leaving a mark.
As Wenger looks to sell several fringe players ahead of the upcoming 2017-18 season, Goal takes a look back at 15 of Arsenal’s worst buys.
ANDREY ARSHAVIN | From Zenit | €19m | 2009
Arshavin arrived at Emirates Stadium to much fanfare following an impressive string of performances at Euro 2008, and the Russia international scored six goals and made seven assists in 12 Premier League games, helping Arsenal finish the 2008-09 season in the Champions League qualification spots.
His £15m transfer was a club record at the time and the attacking midfielder’s scintillating four-goal haul against Liverpool at Anfield will be remembered for years to come.
However, his inconsistency and lethargic performances eventually saw him fall out of favour with many fans and he eventually departed for Zenit after finding his playing time limited.
AMAURY BISCHOFF | Free transfer | 2008
Arsene Wenger described the signing of Bischoff as a “gamble” due to midfielder’s history of injury problems. It never paid off because, even after eventually returning to fitness, Bischoff found himself low down in the midfield pecking order.
He revealed in an exclusive interview with Goal that he decided to leave Arsenal due to a lack of playing time, having seen just 25 minutes of action in a solitary Premier League outing.
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“It wasn’t easy [to decide to leave], because I was injured,” Bischoff explained. “But I came back and gave it my all. Then the question came up whether to stay or to leave.
“I talked to Wenger and then we decided that it might be better to leave the club because I wanted go play more games for the first team.”
MAROUANE CHAMAKH | Free transfer | 2010
Chamakh joined Arsenal on a free transfer from Bordeaux in 2010 and had a promising start to his Gunners career.
The striker scored 14 goals in 67 appearances before joining West Ham on loan in January 2013, but it was Robin van Persie’s rise to promise that saw him displaced from the starting line-up.
Chamakh revealed in a recent interview that he feels Wenger misled him over his first-team opportunities at Arsenal.
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“I played for six months, I scored goals, I was decisive,” the Morocco international argued. “In January , Robin returned from injury and overnight, I landed on the bench without justification.
“It is clear that I am a little annoyed at [Wenger] because I think I deserved more playing time than what I was given.
“As the year began, at the start of the season, he told me that we might change tactics and maybe I would be able to play up front with Robin.”
DENILSON | From Sao Paulo | £3.4m | 2006
Despite making over 150 appearances for Arsenal, it’s fair to say that the Brazilian midfielder never lived up to the lofty expectations of those who believed he was destined to become the Gunners’ new midfield star.
The former Brazil under-17 captain was physically weaker than many of his opponents and frustrated supporters with his tendency to pass sideways and backwards.
His final seasons at Emirates Stadium were spent out on loan before he eventually decided to cancel his contract.
GERVINHO | From Lille | £10.8m | 2011
Arsenal signed Gervinho at a time when Lille had the likes of Eden Hazard and Yoan Cabaye in their Ligue 1-winning team. It’s fair to say that Wenger signed the wrong player, as the Ivorian international never settled at Arsenal after coming in as a replacement for Samir Nasri.
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Eleven goals in 69 appearances showed that he wasn’t the right man to lead Arsenal’s attack and a terrible open-goal miss against Bradford in the League Cup probably probably best sums up his Arsenal career.
DAVID GRONDIN | From Saint-Etienne | £500k | 1998
Grondin signed from Saint-Etienne at the age of 18 but made only one league appearance in five years at the club, before being sold to Scottish side Dunfermline Athletic.
“I was young and inexperienced at a big, big club full of great players performing well. I couldn’t exactly then go to the manager and say I should be in the team,” Grondin said.
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“Each time I returned to Arsenal after a spell away, I started back at square one, but I had to accept it and work away in the hope of being ready if called upon.
“I don’t know why I cost £500,000, and can only assume this money was paid as a gesture. There were a lot of good youngsters at Saint-Etienne at this time and I think that was why Arsenal got involved.”
FRANCIS JEFFERS | From Everton | £8m | 2001
‘Fox in the Box’ was the description given to Jeffers when he joined Arsenal for £8m from Everton in 2001.
“We were considering him (Ruud van Nistelrooy) and Francis Jeffers and, in the end, we went for Jeffers,” revealed Wenger.
He scored just eight goals while having various fitness issues before being sold to Charlton for £2.6 million in 2004.
OLEG LUZHNY | From Dynamo Kyiv | £2.3m | 1999
Luzhny has two FA Cups and one Premier League title to his name and the versatile Ukraine international featured at both centre-half and left-back for Arsenal.
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However, despite making 31 appearances in his first season at the club, he failed to displace Lee Dixon from the starting 11.
STEFAN MALZ | From 1860 Munich | £650k | 1999
Malz signed from 1860 Munich in 1998 but could not force his way into a midfield boasting the likes of Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit and Robert Pires.
He left just two years after joining, having made only 14 appearances.
ALBERTO MENDEZ | From SC Feucht | €375k | 1997
Arrived in the same year as Nicolas Anelka, Emmanuel Petit and Marc Overmars but the youngster certainly didn’t follow in their footsteps.
Signed from German non-league side SC Feucht in 1997, Mendez ended his Arsenal career with just 11 appearances to his name.
ANDRE SANTOS | From Fenerbahce | €7m | 2011
Signed in the same transfer window as Per Mertesacker and Yossi Benayoun, the Brazilian arrived at Arsenal to solve the left-back shortage.
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His lack of pace and poor positioning saw him vilified by press and supporters alike, though, and his decision to swap shirts with Robin van Persie at half-time during the club’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester United only provoked further ire.
IGORS STEPANOVS | From Skonto Riga | £1.3m | 2000
Stepanovs was signed following an injury to Tony Adams but, after playing in the infamous 6-1 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford, his confidence clearly took a knock from which he would never recover.
He made 17 league appearances in four years before joining Grasshopper.
SEBASTIEN SQUILLACI | From Sevilla | £6.5m | 2010
The Frenchman was signed to bolster an Arsenal defence short of numbers but several errors early on showed that he was out of his depth.
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Squillaci slid down the pecking order and was released in 2013.
CHRISTOPHER WREH | From AS Monaco | £300k | 1997
Signed for Arsenal in the summer of 1997 and played in a side which boasted Ian Wright, Dennis Bergkamp and Nicolas Anelka.
He played 46 times for Arsenal, scoring five goals, but struggled to hold down a regular spot.
PARK CHU-YOUNG | From AS Monaco | £5.5m | 2011
In what is one of the strangest signings of Wenger’s reign at Arsenal, Park walked out of a medical with Lille after being informed of the club’s interest.
The South Korean was highly rated in Ligue 1 and scored on his debut in a League Cup match against Bolton, but a lack of game time and questions over his quality saw him leave the club in 2014 after making under 10 appearances.