Five of Arsenal’s most panicky panic buys: Kallstrom, Santos, Perez…
Under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal developed a reputation of avoiding spending when they saw no value in the market, but even the Gunners have been forced into action from time to time.
After years of seeing their classic method bear fruit, the 2010s saw the London club fall behind in the race for trophies and only just cling on to their top-four status.
They still continued to make some smart purchases in that period, but the thinking behind a few of the others was more…questionable.
Off the back of an 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford, which left Arsenal with one point from their first three Premier League games in the 2011-12 season, Arsene Wenger needed reinforcements.
The first priority was ensuring the left-back position was filled for the foreseeable future by Not Armand Traore. Was Andre Santos better? That part wasn’t important.
In the Brazilian’s defence, he scored one of the goals that secured victory on the final day of the season to deny Spurs a spot in the Champions League. Does that make him a good signing on balance? Absolutely not.
Not all panic buys are failures. Indeed, some turn out to be exactly what you needed.
Arteta joined the same day as Andre Santos. And Per Mertesacker. And Yossi Benayoun on loan. His arrival came after a summer in which the Gunners were linked with Yann Mvila, Marvin Martin, Marouane Fellaini, Mathieu Valbuena and plenty more, but the Arteta deal got moving very late on.
Sometimes the panicked ‘just get who’s available’ approach can pay dividends. In another world, though, Arsenal would have got all their primary targets that summer and would now be managed by Christopher Samba.
It takes a lot for a player to be described as a panic buy before he’s played a single minute, but that’s what happened with Perez.
Arsenal signed the Spaniard after refusing to be held to ransom for Alexandre Lacazette… only to then pay Lyon’s asking price less than a year later, having missed out on the Champions League by a point while Lacazette scored 37 goals and led OL to the semi-finals of the Europa League.
Sure, Perez had just enjoyed the best goalscoring season of his career, but it was also the only time he hit double-figures in any top division or second-tier league. When that included a season in Greece and two in Ukraine, and noting that he was already 28 at the time, perhaps the sole league goal is something people could have predicted.
What’s that? Oh, right, people sort of did predict it.
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After losing William Gallas, Philippe Senderos, Mikael Silvestre and Sol Campbell in the summer of 2010, Arsenal perhaps had a stronger case than in most other years that they just needed bodies rather than a well-planned approach to reinforcements.
Even within this context, though, the Squillaci move seems curious. However, after a failure to snap up summer targets Gary Cahill, Brede Hangeland and Neven Subotic, the former Monaco man was brought on board in late August.
Naturally, things went terribly: not only was Squillaci dreadful when he did play, but he also managed to injure competent defender Laurent Koscielny within months of arriving.
Even Arsene Wenger effectively admitted this one was, if not a panicky buy, certainly not an unpanicky one.
Knowing a player has a knock is one thing, but knowing he has a fractured vertebra is another altogether.
“It crossed my mind (not to complete the deal), but I would not have signed him if we’d had two or three more days to do something. It was 5pm on Friday night, so it was sign him or nobody,” the manager said. Even if there’s an internal logic, that doesn’t stop it being a panic in the wider sense.