The 15-year-old who Arsenal broke a transfer record to sign in 2005 - where is he now?

Although teams seem to prefer buying players to instantly succeed in the first team, some clubs do tend to buy youngsters in the hope they will turn into big stars.

And in some cases, teams will spend quite a fair bit of money to do so.

That was the case in 2005, when Arsene Wenger and Arsenal decided to bring a 15-year-old youngster from Barcelona to the club in a deal which ended up costing £2.72million: a world record for player of his age, and one that still stands today.

His name? Fran Merida.

The Spaniard arrived with great expectations, with many believing him to be a player that would develop into a world star, including Wenger, who later described him as an ‘absolutely amazing player.’

And although he made six appearances in the league for Arsenal and made numerous outings in cup competitions, Merida stalled on signing a new contract, and his time in England officially came to an end in 2010 when Atletico Madrid came calling.


Merida found first team opportunities slightly easier to come by at Atletico, but failed to establish himself as a regular.

He was shipped out on loan to Portuguese side Braga, where he made just five appearances, and then officially left Atletico just two years after signing.

The following years were also not kind to the former Barcelona youngster as he had difficult spells with Hercules and Brazilian club Atlético Paranaense.

With his career in free-fall, Merida needed to choose his next club wisely. 

Fortunately, he did just that, signing for Segunda División side, Huesca.

For the first time in his career Merida was a first team regular, and the move seemed to pay off for the Spaniard as he enjoyed success for his side.

He scored eight goals in 58 games for the club across two seasons, with his impressive performances earning a move back to La Liga with Osasuna in 2016.

And his return to Spain’s top division started well as he scored on his debut in a 1-1 draw against Malaga, but he only made 16 more appearances in the league that season as his side were relegated.

As of this year, Merida is still playing for Osasuna in the Segunda División where he has scored seven times in 26 appearances.

Now 28-years-old, Merida has not hit the heights which Arsenal once hoped he would, but he has still had a fairly decent career in football.


It could have been so different for Merida, and he himself admitted that it was a mistake to leave Arsenal in 2010.

“It was a mistake, I wasn’t patient,” Merida told Yahoo Sport. “I realise that now, but I’ve never been a patient person.

“I had some opportunities but the competition was high. Arsenal bought Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere into the first-team. Nasri, Fabregas, Rosicky and Denilson were also in my position. It was difficult for me.

“I thought hard about the offer (from Atletico). They offered me a four-year contract and I still felt that I wasn’t going to play every week at Arsenal. I said goodbye.”

Maybe he should have stuck it out.

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