Arsenal signings after Wenger – the Hits and Misses

Martin Macdonald
Martin Macdonald Updated: 19 May 2021 15:43 BST 5 min read
Arsenal signings after Wenger – the Hits and Misses

Arsene Wenger left Arsenal two years ago, and although the legendary Frenchman, like every other manager, was guilty of some miscalculations in the transfers market, the quality of recruitment at Arsenal has undoubtedly declined since he left the club.

Over Unai Emery’s tenure and now Mikel Arteta’s, nearly £300m has been spent on new recruits to try and rebuild the squad following the long Wenger era.

Yet, the Gunners currently find themselves down in 15th in the Premier League after the first 11 games of the season, which would suggest most of the money has not been well spent.

Arsenal transfers 2018/19:

PlayerFeeHit or Miss?
Lucas Torreira£25.8m [€28.2m]Miss
Bernd Leno£22.5m [€24.7]Hit
Sokratis£14.4m [€15.8m]Okay
Matteo Guendouzi£7.2m {€7.9m]Miss
Denis SuarezLOANMiss
Stephan LichtsteinerFREEMiss

For a while, it seemed like Lucas Torreira was the player Arsenal were missing in midfield; tenacious, energetic, and aggressive.

However, things didn’t work out for the Uruguayan and he was eventually shipped out to Atletico Madrid on loan as part of the Thomas Partey deal.

Bernd Leno has proved to be serviceable if uninspiring in goal for the Gunners, but remains their number one two years later.

Sokratis has never been part of a solid defence, really.

Matteo Guendouzi is now on loan at Hertha after a bust-up with Mikel Arteta, who was unhappy with him allegedly poking fun at Brighton players for how much money they made compared to him.

Transfers 2019/20:

The clear highlight, or lowlight, of this group of transfers is Nicolas Pepe, who was signed by Emery (or someone else at the club) for a record fee after his impressive goalscoring exploits for Lille in Ligue 1.

PlayerFeeHit or Miss
Nicolas Pepe£72m [€79m]Miss
William Saliba£27m [€29.6m]Miss
Kieran Tierney£24.3m [€26.6m]Hit
David Luiz£7.8m {€8.5m]Okay
Pablo MariLOANMiss
Gabriel Martinelli£6m [€6.5m]Okay
Cedric SoaresLOANMiss
Dani CeballosLOANOkay

Admittedly, those goalscoring exploits were boosted significantly by penalties, but the Ivorian displayed enough to make it an intriguing enough piece of recruitment, even if the fee was hugely inflated.

The transfer has been a disaster so far, as Arteta leaves the £72m man on the bench regularly in the league, with Arsenal even throwing money at Willian in the summer to come in and play in his position on the right wing. There’s some talent there, but not £72m worth.

William Saliba was brought in from Ligue 1, too, though loaned straight back to Saint-Etienne. He was meant to return to the Emirates in the summer of 2020 to become part of the senior side, but Arsenal toyed with the idea of sending him back for another loan season.

He has remained in London, but hasn’t played. The situation has been a mess at Arsenal.

Kieran Tierney appears to be a fine acquisition at left-back and is quickly dispelling the myth that players who achieve success in Scotland have trouble adapting to life in the Premier League. He has been one of Arteta’s most consistent performers and is already a fan’s favourite.

David Luiz, much like he always is, has been hit and miss in his time at the Emirates. Beautiful distribution one moment, then a calamitous error the next.

Transfers 2020/21:

Arsenal’s major signing this summer was a statement one as they successfully signed Thomas Partey from Atletico. He has had a stop-start beginning to his career, though, so we haven’t seen much of him in an Arsenal shirt. He didn’t cover himself in glory at the weekend though when he walked off the pitch complaining of an injury during the North London derby, allowing Spurs the space in midfield to score.

One positive for Arsenal this season has been their mean defence, and part of his has been the recruitment of Gabriel, who looks the part at centre-back. He needs a partner, though, and the Gunners are reportedly on the lookout for one.

PlayerFeeHit or Miss
Thomas Partey£45m [€49.5m]Unknown
Gabriel£23.4m [€25.6m]Hit
Pablo Mari£7.2m [€7.9m]Miss
Runar Alex Runarsson£1.8m [€2m]Unknown
Cedric SoaresFREEMiss
WillianFREEMiss

Mari, signed permanently after being on loan, has played a bit, but he is down the pecking order at centre-back.

Cedric completed a permanent move on a free transfer, basically to play in the Europa League.

Willian has been a bit of a disaster. Things were already sour for the Brazilian when he signed, as Arsenal gave him a massive wage shortly after making a lot of their staff redundant during the coronavirus pandemic. He isn’t justifying it so far.

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