Arsenal’s seven awful signings since Arsene Wenger’s exit that totally backfired

A look at some of Arsenal's biggest transfer flops who were signed after Arsene Wenger's Emirates departure back in 2018 - including a pair of former Chelsea stars


Posted Monday, August 23, 2021 by Dailystar.co.uk

Arsenal have made headlines this summer by splashing out around £130m in the transfer market - the biggest outlay of any Premier League side.

However, Gunners boss Mikel Arteta has come under fire, with some fans and pundits claiming that despite that mammoth outlay the side hasn't really been improved.

Unfortunately for the Gunners, this isn't something new - their track record in the transfer market is chequered at best.

On numerous occasions since the departure of legendary manager Arsene Wenger, Arsenal have concluded a number of deals which have looked promising on paper but ended up being disasters.

Here, Daily Star Sport takes a look at seven of the clubs biggest transfer flops over the past few few years.

1) Willian

Arsenal’s seven awful signings since Arsene Wenger’s exit that totally backfired

Willian has endured an absolutely torrid time since arriving at the Emirates.

Arsenal lured the ex-Chelsea man across London last summer - a move which feels like an expensive mistake even when you take into account the Brazilian didn't command a transfer fee.

Despite starring for the Blues during a seven-year stay at Stamford Bridge, the winger has managed a measly return of just one goal in 34 Premier League appearances at his new club.

The star has even admitted himself that his switch to the Gunners has been a disaster.

Speaking to BT Sport last year, Willian opened up on what he called "one of the most difficult" spells in his career.

"Yes, it's been very difficult for me this season, one of the most difficult of my career," he said. "I always want to do something special for the team but this is life.

"The new philosophy of work, I think it's taken time to adapt. It wasn't because I don't want to play or be good for Arsenal."

2) Stephan Lichtsteiner

Arsenal’s seven awful signings since Arsene Wenger’s exit that totally backfired

Veteran Swiss right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner arrived at the Emirates for free.

The full-back arrived with a healthy reputation after racking up over 100 caps for Switzerland throughout a sparkling career.

But the ex-Juventus ace struggled to make any sort of impact in the Premier League, managing just 20 appearances during his one and only year in North London.

Lichtsteiner would then link up with Bundesliga outfit Augsburg before retiring the following summer.

3) Denis Suarez

Arsenal’s seven awful signings since Arsene Wenger’s exit that totally backfired

Arsenal would have to go some way to top a more forgettable signing than Denis Suarez.

You'd probably be forgiven for forgetting the Spanish midfielder even played for the club.

He managed just six appearances after joining on loan from Barcelona back in January 2019.

His embarrassingly brief stint in North London was ended early due to a groin injury - with Suarez returning to La Liga with just 67 Premier League minutes under his belt.

4) William Saliba

Arsenal’s seven awful signings since Arsene Wenger’s exit that totally backfired

William Saliba's signing back in 2019 for a fee of £27m was hailed as a coup at the time, with the French defender earmarked as a potential star of the future.

However, two years on, that potential has failed to translate into any sort of impact at the Emirates.

The 20-year-old has been farmed out on loan for the second successive year, with a season-long loan to Marseille signed off earlier this summer.

The switch to the French giants is Saliba's third temporary spell away from the Emirates since signing, and he's still yet to make his Arsenal debut - a damning indication of his standing in the Gunners hierarchy in the wake of their defensive woes since his arrival.

Whilst he may still come good, it's hard to label Saliba as anything but a bust when you take his price tag into account.

5) Runar Alex Runarsson

Arsenal’s seven awful signings since Arsene Wenger’s exit that totally backfired

Runar Alex Runarsson was snapped up last summer as an understudy to Bernd Leno in the wake of Emi Martinez's departure to Aston Villa.

Whilst the Icelandic stopper was only signed as a deputy, his limited performances in an Arsenal shirt have been nothing short of calamitous.

With the arrival of Ramsdale this summer, it's likely Runarsson will be offloaded this summer.

A proposed move to Turkish side Altay Spor fell through earlier this summer, but the Gunners will be desperate to find a suitor for the ex-Dijon flop.

6) Sokratis Papastathopoulos

Arsenal’s seven awful signings since Arsene Wenger’s exit that totally backfired

Sokratis Papastathopoulos arrived in North London after forging a solid reputation during a five-year stay with Borussia Dortmund.

However, despite early promise, the Greek defender is another star who has struggled in the English top flight.

The veteran was completely frozen out under Arteta, with the Gunners struggling to get his handsome salary off the wage bill.

Papastathopoulos eventually wrapped up a switch to Greek giants Olympiacos after having his Arsenal deal terminated back in January this year.

7) Nicolas Pepe

Arsenal’s seven awful signings since Arsene Wenger’s exit that totally backfired

Nicolas Pepe hasn't been as woeful as the majority of the duds on this list, but he's failed to live up to the hype since arriving as the Gunners record signing in 2019.

Arsenal shelled out a staggering £72m for the ex-Lille man - and the return on that investment has been disappointing so far.

The Ivorian attacker did at least show some promise during a disappointing campaign for Arteta's side last year.

The 26-year-old racked up 10 strikes in the Premier League - doubling his tally of five from his maiden season.

But Pepe will need to improve that tally again this year if he is to live up to his mammoth price tag and avoid going down in Gunners history as a club-record flop.

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