Runarsson, Willian, Partey: Ranking every Arsenal signing since Arsene Wenger left

  • Kobe Tong

Arsenal flopped to the latest defeat of their doomed 2020/21 campaign against Manchester City this week.

There were more than a few Gooners who were keeping their fingers crossed that the Carabao Cup would be immune to the rot that is spreading through their Premier League form as they languish in 15th.

Besides, for all of Mikel Arteta's struggles across his first year in the Emirates hot seat, he's been pretty effective in the cup competitions with an FA Cup and Community Shield to his name.

Arsenal 1-4 Man City

However, it appears as though even knockout games are no longer a safe place for the north London club as they were humbled 4-1 by Pep Guardiola's men in their own backyard.

Miraculously, Arsenal managed to crawl to half-time at 1-1 with Gabriel Jesus and Alexandre Lacazette exchanging goals, but things quickly unraveled in the second 45 minutes.

Goals from Riyah Mahrez, Phil Foden and Aymeric Laporte ensured that the pressure continued to pile on the Gunners with goalkeeper Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson, in particular, coming under fire.


Rúnarsson under fire

The summer signing was panned for his role in City's opening two strikes, but regardless of those errors, people familiar with Rúnarsson's time in France were baffled by the move from day one.

And as the problems at Arsenal are slowly traced back to events long before Arteta's tenure, we decided to look back on the 18 senior signings that the club has made since Arsene Wenger's exit.

As we all know, recruitment forms a major part of the success of teams and with so many people throwing Rúnarsson under the bus, let's widen the net to look at Arsenal's choices as a whole.


Ranking post-Wenger signings

So, without further ado, check out our rankings of the 18 first-team deals the Gunners have made with either Arteta or Unai Emery in the technical area down below: 

18. Denis Suárez

By his own admission, Suárez was barely functioning at 50% fitness during his doomed loan spell from Barcelona and it told across six outings where he looked a shadow of his talented self.

17. Willian

Dishing out big-money wages for Willian in a summer of over 50 redundancies wasn't a good look in the first place, never mind when he's gone on to flop with just one Premier League shot on target.


16. Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson

No, this isn't reactionary hyperbole because Rúnarsson looked sound enough during his first four Arsenal outings, keeping two Europa League clean sheets and conceding a negligible three goals.

However, with experts having warned Arsenal about their move for Rúnarsson when they first completed it, there's good reason to think that his City disaster isn't merely an anomaly.

15. William Saliba

Let's make one thing clear: this isn't Saliba's fault. But how can we possibly rank this move highly when it's hitherto harvested zero senior outings with Arteta inexplicably exiling him week after week?


14. Pablo Marí

Cut from a similar cloth, Marí is the definition of a fringe player and you can't help wondering why Arsenal bothered to make his deal permanent in the summer after just five games in 11 months.

13. Stephan Lichtsteiner

Signing a serial winner after Wenger's exit looked to be a shrewd move, but across Lichtsteiner's forgettable 23 outings it was clear that he was past his best and was duly flogged the following summer.


12. Matteo Guendouzi

In terms of performances on the pitch, you could argue that this is incredibly harsh because the young French enforcer was one of Arsenal's few bright sparks during Emery's time in charge.

But considering we haven't seen him play for the Gunners since the Brighton controversy, leading to a 2020/21 loan to Germany, you have to wonder whether off-the-pitch woes have been worth the excitement on it.

11. Cédric Soares

We're now in the distinctly shrug-your-shoulders territory because although Soares has looked like pretty solid support for Hector Bellerin, he's hardly set the world alight across his 15 appearances.


10. Sokratis Papastathopoulos

In Sokratis' defence, he has, at times, looked like one of Arsenal's sturdier centre-backs, though that probably has more to do with the chaos around him - and his spell in London looks to have run its course.

9. Dani Ceballos

As much as Ceballos has looked top-class at times, Arsenal fans haven't seen that often enough and a Premier League record of zero goals and three assists from 37 games is unquestionably subpar.


8. David Luiz

Luiz naturally finishes up in the middle sections by way of looking world-class one minute and Sunday League the next with his diametrically-opposed displays against City last season perfectly illustrating that juxtaposition.

7. Lucas Torreira

A similarly frustrating transfer with Torreira looking so impressive during his first few months, dropping an inspired derby display, only to go off the boil and be shipped out to Atletico Madrid.


6. Nicolas Pépé

Arguably Arsenal's brightest spark this season, Pepe has shown flashes of brilliance in the famous red jersey, but it's hard to justify the £72-million fee, just 15 goals in 72 games and the Leeds red card.

5. Thomas Partey

It goes without saying that Partey is almost impossible to rank at this early stage, but the former Atletico man has already looked class in his first six games and could be a serious coup for Arteta.


4. Gabriel

Again, we could be getting ahead of ourselves, but Gabriel has been a shining light in an Arsenal defence blighted by so many errors and his MOTM performance at Old Trafford was particularly promising.

3. Kieran Tierney

If nothing else, Tierney plays and acts like a true Arsenal player, which is something the club has lacked for years now and the Scot has never given less than his all across 42 appearances to date.


2. Gabriel Martinelli

Branded the 'talent of the century' by Jurgen Klopp, it's brilliant to see Martinelli back to fitness after his initial run of 10 goals in 26 games last season and he even chipped in with an assist against City.

1. Bernd Leno

It's a pretty sad indictment of Arsenal's post-Wenger spending that their finest purchase has been a goalkeeper, but you've got to tip your hat to Leno for establishing himself as one of the Premier League's finest.

You can't help feeling that Arsenal would be in an even bigger rut if it wasn't for his world-class saves - chiefly THAT stop against Tottenham - so they'll be hoping he sticks around for years to come.


Far too many errors

Talk about a mixed bag. After more than two decades with Wenger pulling the strings, perhaps Arsenal have found it a tough gearshift to deal with two coaches coming through the door in quick succession.

Marry that to chopping and changing in the recruitment sector and the events of 2020 broadly and you have yourself a climate that's ripe for misjudged signings and expensive errors at the Emirates.

It would be ham-fisted to claim that's the overarching theme of Arsenal's spending, but it's hard to imagine Liverpool or even Manchester City making so many moves that, well, make little to no sense.


You've got to wonder what's going on amongst the Arsenal chiefs when a goalkeeper who had long struggled in France was being procured to go along with the ill-judged coups of Suarez, Willian and Saliba.

Whatever it is that's going wrong at Arsenal, it's spreading, because it feels as though everything is going wrong from the dressing room to the boardroom.

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