Serge Gnabry, Robin van Persie, Nicolas Pepe: 9 transfer decisions Arsenal got completely wrong


Arsenal fans can’t have enjoyed watching Serge Gnabry fire Bayern Munich to the Champions League final on Wednesday.

The German winger scored a first-half brace as Hansi Flick’s side beat Lyon to set up a meeting with Paris Saint-Germain in the final.

Gnabry’s tally for the season is now up to 23 goals in all competitions, and he’s also provided 12 assists.

Much has been made of the 25-year-old’s story. Not considered good enough by Arsenal and West Brom, he’s now flourishing at the highest level and sticking two fingers up at his former employers in the process.

His departure from north London came in 2016, when Werder Bremen paid £5 million to sign him following a lack of opportunities with the Gunners.

Arsene Wenger wanted to keep Gnabry at the club and four years on, the former Arsenal boss must regret not doing more to convince him to stay.


But it’s not the first time Arsenal have got a transfer decision disastrously wrong.

From selling Robin van Persie to rivals Manchester United to paying more than £10m for Gervinho, the Gunners have a history for this kind of thing.

We’ve taken a look at nine decisions that Arsenal would love to give a second thought to.

1. Selling Serge Gnabry

Wenger stresses that Gnabry didn’t want to stay at Arsenal, and that could be true.

But the winger also admitted when he left that he joined Werder Bremen “to get playing time, to develop further and to help the team.”

That would have been possible at Arsenal if he had been given the chance.

2. Signing Nicolas Pepe for £72 million

We’re not ready to consider Pepe a flop after just one season, but £72m?

That’s a hefty fee for a player who managed five league games in 31 appearances last season.

The fact that the Gunners themselves are investigating the decision to break the bank for Pepe proves this was a questionable move.


3. Letting Santi Cazorla leave

Spanish midfielder Cazorla left Arsenal upon the expiration of his contract in 2018.

He hadn’t played since injuring his Achilles tendon against Ludogorets in October 2016, which led to a horrific spell in which Cazorla underwent multiple surgeries and was told he should be “satisfied” to ever walk again.

Not only has Cazorla gone on to prove the doctors wrong, but he’s also made Arsenal regret not keeping him at the club with two terrific seasons with Villarreal.


The 35-year-old scored 11 goals and assists nine in La Liga in 2019/20.

He also returned to the Spain setup, playing in their Euro 2020 qualifiers.

He certainly wasn’t past it when Arsenal decided to let him go.

4. Signing Sebastien Squillaci

Signed to improve Arsenal’s defence, it didn’t take long before the £6.5m signing to show that he was out of his depth in the Premier League.

The centre-back was released after three seasons, managing just seven appearances in all competitions in his final two years at the club.

5. Selling Robin van Persie to Man United

Arsenal’s hands were slightly tied in 2012. Van Persie had just one year left on his contract and had already announced that he would not be extending it.

But come on, Arsenal. Anyone but United.

BBC Sport reported that the Gunners were ready to make Van Persie the highest-paid player in their history but never actually offered him a new contract.

So perhaps they deserved to see Van Persie win the Premier League, and to give him a guard of honour, in 2013.

6. Signing Gervinho

In 2011, Lille’s team included Eden Hazard and Yohan Cabaye. Wenger picked Gervinho.

The Ivorian was bought for £10.8m and was seen as Samir Nasri’s replacement, but he didn’t deliver.

Gervinho managed just 11 goals in 69 appearances and is one of the worst signings in recent Arsenal history.

7. Selling Wojciech Szczesny to Juventus

Szczesny had his ups and downs at Arsenal, and he deserved punishing after being caught smoking in the changing rooms after a terrible performance against Southampton in 2015.

But his loan move to Roma in 2015 should have been for developmental purposes, not the beginning of the end for him at Arsenal.

He shone at Roma and Juventus then signed him permanently in 2017.

Three years later and Szczesny is one of the best goalkeepers in Europe, winning Serie A’s Best Goalkeeper award this season.


8. Letting Aaron Ramsey leave on a free

What a mess this was.

Arsenal withdrew their contract offer to Ramsey in 2018 and were happy to watch the Welshman leave on a free transfer the following year.

It was an awful way to treat a player who had delivered so many great moments for the club.

It’s not like Ramsey’s performances were on the decline, either. Baffling.

9. Signing Marouane Chamakh

Okay, so he didn’t cost Arsenal a penny to sign.

But Chamakh’s move to England in 2010 still haunts the club’s fans today.

He managed 14 goals in 67 appearances for the club and was arguably the worst of a string of poor signings around the turn of the decade.

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