Arsenal’s recruitment has been crucial to their recent rise, but previously the Gunners had made major blunders in the transfer market.

Several summers ago, the club opted to change their policy, targeting young players, which was criticised at the time. It led to them adding the likes of Aaron Ramsdale and Ben White whilst more quality was bought in 12 months ago in the form of Gabriel Jesus

Their impressive season has allowed them to attract more quality talent, namely Kai Havertz whilst others could still follow. Previously though, Edu, who plays a key role in their ins and outs, has copped criticism for how he’s shaped the squad at the Emirates.

Arsenal’s recruitment had only seen them fall further behind the pace as they added big names at the latter ends of their careers, which then made them harder to shift off the wage bill. We take a look at five signings who lived up to – or even surpassed – expectations, as well as those who’ve flopped.

The best five

William Saliba

The centre-half has recently penned a new deal until 2027 and, at less than £30m, represents at absolute bargain in the modern market. Saliba was the linchpin of Arsenal’s defence before his injury, with the drop off notable when he was absent. For years he was loaned out to his homeland, but his development seems to have been aided by that regular football and he is now among the best young defenders in Europe.

Martin Odegaar

Hailed as a teenage star when he was captured by Real Madrid, his career had stagnated whilst in Spain. Arsenal bought him in on loan before adding him permanently, a decision that raised eyebrows. Odegaard has now become the centre piece of Arsenal’s attack, leading by example as he dons the armband having just produced his most productive season to date.

Gabriel Martinelli.


The Gunners unearthed a gem when they added the unknown teenager from Ituano in Brazil. Martinelli was slowly integrated into the first-team, taking his chances when they came his way. Now Martinelli has become a mainstay in Arsenal’s attack, shining in big games and being hailed as a “generational talent” by Jurgen Klopp.

Ben White

He’s proved himself to be incredibly versatile with the £50m centre-half shifting out to right-back to accommodate Saliba last term. Another man who had questions raised due to his transfer fee, but the England international was largely an ever present for Arteta last term and continues to be a reliable performer.

Gabriel Jesus

Jesus only played for a portion of his debut season after injury curtailed him. Nevertheless he proved to be a big hit early on, linking the play effectively and showing a potent side that has been criticised. Doubts remain over his ability to regularly find the net but the fact he chose to leave Manchester City to join Arsenal highlights the rise of the north Londoners.

The worst five

Nicolas Pepe

The Ivorian is set to be usurped as the club’s record signing soon, but for now he retains that title. Not that he’s ever lived up to the billing of his £70m plus price tag. Pepe was loaned out last term to Nice, but failed to rediscover his best form and Arsenal very much want him off the wage bill, despite him being valued at £15m, which would represent a loss of £57m.


The ex-Chelsea man is not the only person to swap blue for red in his 30s but fail to hit the heights and then cop regular criticism as his wages made him hard to shift. Willian has since hit his best at Fulham, but massively underperformed whilst at the Emirates despite arriving for nothing.

David Luiz

The centre-half was another man to go from Chelsea to Arsenal, but once his best days were past him. Even when he played in blue Luiz very much had a mistake in him and that trend continued at the Gunners. His leadership has been cited as key, despite his brief time at the club, but he by no means got them closer to their goals.

Albert Sambi Lokonga

At times it looks as if the Belgian has all the attributes to be a star, but he’s never been able to put it all together. He was by no means cheap having joined from Anderlecht for over £17m. At 23 he still has time on his side, but a recent loan spell at Crystal Palace certainly did nothing to ignite his career in England.

Nuno Tavares

Signed from Benfica, Tavares has endured a difficult time in north London. He faced the embarrassment of being hooked during a defeat at Selhurst Park, which Arteta acknowledged was a blow. The full-back was sent out to Marseille on loan but with Arsenal’s backline largely set it could be a long way back for Tavares, who cost the club £8m.

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