Originally published on Goonersphere.
Buying a player isn’t as easy as popping to the supermarket and choosing between different brands of peanut butter. There are many variables to consider before you take the plunge and deposit the jar into your basket/trolley.
The country from whence they hail, the language barrier, their respective strengths and weaknesses in accordance to the current teams setup, disciplinary record, private life, international commitments, and probably a few more as well.
It turns into somewhat of a crap shoot, as with so many different reasons why a purchase can go awry it is impossible to reconcile all of the potential pitfalls.
A grain of luck is often the key ingredient when considering whether a player will make a positive or negative impact, so when a player arrives at the club and his time on the pitch stinks out the whole stadium, the manager can be occasionally forgiven for unleashing such a sight upon us all.
Ultimately though, the responsibility falls on the manager. Their hypothetical success, and career at the club, hinge on whether the new recruits sink or swim.
Arsene Wenger’s tenure is long, and the amount of signings he has brought to the club is just as lengthy, so in amongst the precious stones he has unearthed, there is bound to be a few nuggets of fecal matter.
Who has been the worst though? The player who should never have darkened our doorway with his foulness? What player gets the unwanted accolade of ‘Worst Arsene Wenger purchase?’
The next five players mentioned are, in my humble opinion, the worst that has worn the shirt in Wenger’s time at Arsenal. I have taken into consideration the money they cost, and their output on the field, and eventually I have come to this decision.
5 – Nelson Vivas
This modestly framed Argentinean had been part of the Argentina squad, so surely his credntials could not be in doubt? Bought from Swiss side Lugano, he was meant to provide adequate cover to Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn, but each time he took to the pitch, he seemed unable to get to grips with the frenetic pace and physicality of the English game. Bought for £1.6m, which back in 1998 represented a far bigger outlay than it does today, and making 69 League appearances, means that Vivas gets the Number5 spot. Shaky, unreliable, and fading into obscurity for all the right reasons.
4 – Richard Wright
Wright also came with a large reputation. He was part of the Ipswich side which came through the Division One Play-offs and then went on to finish 5th in the Premier League. He looked dependable, and with Alex Manninger having departed, Wright looked a great bet for back up keeper to David Seaman.
The trouble was, that in all of his 12 games for Arsenal, it seemed as if we had signed another Richard Wright. His capacity for claiming crosses was non-existent, and his presence at the near post can only be described as catastrophic. He was subbed at half time in game with Deportivo La Coruna, and he made Manuel Almunia look like Lev Yashin’s heir apparent. We got all of this for £2m.
3 – Andre Santos
A Brazilian international, purchased from Fenerbahce, Santos cost Arsenal £7m. A wing-back (reportedly) with an eye for goal, the smiling Brazilian played 25 games spread over 2 seasons for the Gunners, and every one of them – bar his goal Vs Chelsea – was utter rubbish.
He started off playing in his signature position, but seeing as he had no defensive skills whatsoever, he soon was pushed onto the wing. Where we discovered he had very little attacking skills either. His fitness was a concern, he looked laboured and out of his depth on many occasions. There aren’t many Brazilian internationals who seem more at home as a character on Takeshi’s Castle. Andre Santos was one of them.
2 – Francis Jeffers
The phrase ‘fox in the box’ is stuck to Francis Jeffers. Our play apparently needed a player who was at home in the opposition box. A player who could finish off moves with aplomb, an opportunistic man who could snaffle chances like a pig with truffles.
Jeffers was that fox – or at least he was until donning an Arsenal shirt. He cost a gargantuan £8m, and played 22 games in his time with us, ‘snaffling’ just four goals.
Jeffers had pedigree before his move to Arsenal. He still holds the record for the most England Under21 goals, and his finishing for Everton the season prior to joining us showed he had the potential to be an England regular.
Wrong. One England appearance later, and a truckload of missed chances for Arsenal, a journeyman career was what followed. When on the pitch for Arsenal, it looked like the move had come too soon for him. Like a rabbit – or fox if you prefer – dazzled by an oncoming car’s headlights, Jeffers never got to grips with the pressure laden on his shoulders. His transfer fee and burgeoning reputation hung around his scrawny neck like a hundred Flavour Flav clock pendants.
1 – Sebastian Squillaci
This French defender had enjoyed a marvellous career before signing for Arsenal. Plying his trade for Monaco, Lyon and Sevilla – all duking it out in European competitions – he forged a reputation as an astute defender, and he had amassed 21 caps for Les Bleus before signing in 2010.
A £4m fee was agreed, and he looked to be the experienced defender who would corral these young Arsenal whippersnappers into a defensive unit. He had everything we needed.
He played 23 games for us in his time at Arsenal, and he floundered like a drowning kitten in each one. There are no excuses as to why he struggled so badly for us, as his previous efforts before joining showed he was a skilled player.
He just never played well. Not once. Who knows why he never quite adapted to the game, or nailed down a first team spot, but his confidence-robbed displays certainly didn’t assuage Gooners, nor his boss.
Honourable mentions go to:
Igor Stepanovs, Pascal Cygan, Kaba Diawara, Mikael Silvestre, Manuel Almunia, Alberto Mendez, Amauri Bischoff, Stefan Malz, Fabian Caballero and David Grondin.
Don’t agree? Think that someone else deserves the tag? The comments box is below. Have your say.