Whether or not Arsene Wenger will continue at Arsenal beyond the end of the current season is a moot point at this stage, but during his 20 years and for all of his successes, the Frenchman has often come unstuck in the transfer market.
Frugal with the Gunners’ transfer spend, the eye-for-a-bargain attitude is laudable but there’s also truth in the old adage that you ‘get what you pay for.’
Some of his captures have been so poor that it’s arguable even some die-hard supporters will struggle to remember them and yet these players have had the honour of pulling on the red and white shirt when, quite frankly, they didn’t deserve to have the honour of so doing.
Let’s take a look at five of the worst:
Gervinho was one of many players to end up at Arsenal via French football, a preferred source of Wenger’s. Clearly, on this occasion, his scouts hadn’t done their homework properly because the Ivorian was nothing but a disaster.
Supposedly highly-rated, it was seen as a coup at the time that Gervinho had signed for the north Londoners but his £5m transfer fee from Lille should’ve raised eyebrows at the very least.
An awkward customer, he never really understood the free-flowing Arsenal way and was often more of a hindrance than a help to what his team were trying to execute on the counter attack.
Just 11 goals in 69 appearances proved that he was never really the striker that Wenger had imagined he would be, and his all-too-brief stay in the English capital came to an end when he signed for Roma.
Gervinho can currently be found plying his trade in the Chinese Super League with Hebei China Fortune.
#2 Andre Santos
When Gael Clichy decided that the time was right to up sticks and move to Manchester City, Wenger needed to find a suitable replacement at left-back. Someone who had a bit of zip to their game, who would overlap at will and provide a decent attacking threat when required, but who would ostensibly be purchased for his defensive attributes.
Step forward, Andre Santos. Remember him Arsenal fans?
Signed from Fenerbahce in 2011 for £6m, it’s fair to say that he wasn’t too well known outside of the Turkish league at the time...and with good reason, as it turned out.
The left-back could rarely be found in the position, so keen was he to join the Arsenal attack at every given opportunity. Clichy, and Ashley Cole before him, at least had the nous as to time the runs forward rather than being completely gung-ho.
Far too often, the Gunners were exposed down their left side with Santos caught way out of position, and from the very early stages of his Gunners career, it was clear that this marriage wouldn’t last long.
He managed just 15 games in his debut campaign and that was almost halved to eight in 2012/13 before he joined Gremio.
#3 Kim Kallstrom
Already 31-years-old when signed by the north Londoners, Kim Kallstrom was a January capture in 2014, out of character for Wenger who generally liked to do his transfer business in the summer window.
Jack Wilshere was injured – what’s new – and some cover was required, but Kallstrom himself was injured. A back problem meant that he wasn’t able to play immediately upon signing and so the move made little sense, however as Wenger saw it, it was an extra body for the gruelling Premier League run in.
That it took six weeks for the Swede to overcome his problem is unlikely to have been a scenario that the Frenchman had contemplated, and media at the time had a field day.
Even worse was to follow, Kallstrom only made a measly four appearances before signing for Spartak Moscow. A disaster from start to finish.
#4 Marouane Chamakh
Another striker to be signed from France and another whose record didn’t really fill one with optimism. Marouane Chamakh was signed on a Bosman from Bordeaux in 2010 and no wonder – after watching him in action in the red half of north London, Wenger would’ve been embarrassed at having to pay a penny for him.
His 56 goals in 230 games in the French league should’ve raised the alarm bells long before pen was put to paper. With the greatest of respect, even then the French league was nowhere close to the Premier League, and here we had a distinctly average marksman looking to become the new darling of the Emirates Stadium. It was never going to happen.
A touch that was appalling, to say the least, was at odds with many of his team-mates, and it was noticeable how many stopped passing to him after a while. Had he weighed in with his quota of goals, then his lack of ability may have been overlooked.
Chamakh had spells with three different English clubs, including a loan move while he was contracted with Arsenal, and unsurprisingly, he failed everywhere.
#5 Park Chu-young
The worst of the bunch, and a signing that it’s almost inconceivable for Arsenal to have made.
Though it may have initially been seen as a masterstroke by Wenger, for the player was also being pursued heavily by Lille and the Arsenal manager was known to have experience in the Asian market because of his time with Nagoya Grampus Eight, this has to be the worst signing of the Frenchman’s 20 years in charge.
Signed from Monaco – French market again, surprise surprise – Arsenal parted with the princely sum of £5.53m for his services.
Services that, as it turned out, were just a single appearance in the three years he was at the club. Upon leaving he joined Al-Shabab which hints at the level he should’ve been playing at.
Not in a million years should he have been allowed anywhere close to a magnificent club such as Arsenal. Baffling.