Unai Emery's 12 signings as Arsenal manager ranked from worst to best

  • Kobe Tong

It’s official: Unai Emery is no longer Arsenal manager.

After a torrid run of form that culminated in a 2-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt, the Gunners brought down the axe on the Spanish coach who replaced Arsene Wenger in the summer of 2018.

As a result, the Arsenal fanbase is celebrating a changing of the guard, but also carrying out an autopsy on what went so badly wrong for Emery.

There are so many avenues of investigation you could take, yet we’ve decided to focus on the 12 first-team transfers that Emery instigated during his time in charge.

Considering Wenger latterly signed Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, he had a tough act to follow and we’ve ranked the 12 signings on just how successful they’ve been.

12. Denis Suarez 

What is there even to say about Suarez’s time at Arsenal? Securing him on loan from Barcelona looked to be a serious coup in January, but his six games in England were near sleep-inducing.

11. Stephan Lichtsteiner

Signing an experienced winner looked to a wise move after Arsene Wenger’s departure, but this was another misguided buy under the Emery regime.

The 35-year-old was more of a liability than an asset and the only real positive from his 23 appearances is that the Gunners didn’t pay a penny in transfer fees to see them.

10. David Luiz

A move so nonsensical that you wonder whether Emery knew something we didn’t. He didn’t.

Luiz has been the same erratic and inconsistent defender he was at Chelsea, conceding two penalties during his first four Premier League games and keeping just one league clean sheet.

9. William Saliba

It says a lot about Arsenal’s recent transfer business that a player who hasn’t even made an appearance for them is ranking this highly.

We’re giving Saliba the nod in ninth place because he hasn’t been given the chance to do any damage and he’s looking a seriously impressive prospect on loan at Saint-Etienne.

8. Nicolas Pepe

Let’s make it clear that Pepe still has time to become a top player at Arsenal, but we simply can’t rank him in any higher on what’s been a nondescript start to the season.

His three goals have all come from set-pieces, although two were superb free-kicks against Vitoria, and he’s looked incapable of pulling his weight alongside Lacazette and Aubameyang.

7. Dani Ceballos

Promise is the key word once again because Ceballos was playing some fantastic football during his first few Arsenal outings.

However, the memories of that Burnley display have faded with time and the Real Madrid man has done very little to attract Zinedine Zidane’s attention ever since.

6. Kieran Tierney

It’s hard to place Tierney any higher when he’s newly returned from injury and made just eight appearances, but Emery can be praised for making a shrewd purchase here for £25 million.

5. Sokratis Papastathopoulos

Looked incredibly solid during Arsenal’s nine-game unbeaten run at the start of Emery’s reign and has never been as unreliable as his new partner Luiz.

However, Arsenal need someone a lot more consistent in the long term and the Greek has looked suspect against some of England’s stronger sides. He’s crying out for a better foil, if nothing else.

4. Lucas Torreira

By the time Torreira scored in the North London Derby last season, it looked as though Arsenal had struck gold.

Things have petered out a little bit for Torreira ever since, not to mention those strange AC Milan rumours, but he’s the sort of midfielder that could be invaluable for Arsenal in seasons to come.

3. Gabriel Martinelli

You know you’re good when Jurgen Klopp is saying: “He’s a talent of the century, he’s an incredible striker.”

And considering the 18-year-old has already scored seven goals in nine games, including a brace at Anfield, you can see why people think Arsenal have got their hands on a future superstar.

2. Bernd Leno

Despite a smattering of mistakes in his first season, there can be no denying that Leno has been a worthy successor for Petr Cech.

Arsenal have really struggled for goalkeepers in the last decade and now that Leno has settled into the Premier League, he can reestablish himself as one of the world’s top 10 shot-stoppers.

1. Matteo Guendouzi

What a talent this young man is. At just 20 years old, Guendouzi is already well over halfway to 100 appearances for Arsenal and has arguably been their best player through this dire season.

The Frenchman might have only scored once, but his penetrating runs forward have lifted Arsenal fans to their feet and he’s bound to become one of the world’s best in years to come.

A real mixed bag, that’s for sure.

Emery was given a really tough transfer budget to work with during his first transfer window and that strangely produced some of his finest moves in Guendouzi, Leno and Torreira.

However, the heavy-handed purchases of Pepe and Luiz have tarnished his spending habits considerably, as well as half-baked loan moves for Suarez and Ceballos.

It would be cruel to hammer Emery’s transfers as another fatal nail in his coffin, but let it be known that his decisions certainly weren’t a redeeming point either. 

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