Raya next? Ranking the 13 Spanish players to play for Arsenal in the Premier League

Arsenal are said to weighing up an approach for Brentford goalkeeper David Raya. If he signs, he would become the 14th Spanish player to represent the Gunners in the Premier League era. 

The Athletic’s David Ornstein reports that the 27-year-old Spain international is keen to join Arsenal, who have yet to make a bid but are “exploring” the possibility of striking a deal.

We’ve taken a look back at 13 Spanish players that have made at least one Premier League appearance for Arsenal and ranked them in order from worst to best.

13. Denis Suarez

If you remember a single thing about Suarez’s half-season loan from Barcelona in 2019 we reckon you’re a liar.

12. Lucas Perez

Arriving for a considerable £17.1million fee in the late stages of the summer 2016 window, Perez just never really got going at the Emirates.

He had a respectable enough goalscoring record in his few opportunities in cup competitions, but Wenger never really gave him a fair crack of the whip – he played just 265 minutes in the Premier League, starting twice and scoring once.

Selling him to West Ham for less than a quarter of what he was originally bought for speaks volumes.

11. Ignasi Miquel

As with a couple more notable names we’ll get to later, Miquel developed his skills at both La Masia and Hale End – a hell of a footballing education.

He progressed out of the academy to the fringes of Wenger’s senior squad and made a small handful of appearances before being sold to Norwich City in 2014.

Last term the 30-year-old played a vital role in the heart of defence for Granada as they got promoted as champions from the Segunda Division.

10. Fran Merida

Another that left Barcelona for Arsenal as a teenager, Merida looked electric in his early cup cameos – and his wonder strike against Liverpool made people sit up and take notice.

But the midfielder never quite lived up to that early promise and he left as a free agent in 2010, having made just six Premier League appearances for the Gunners.

READ NEXT: Fran Merida at Arsenal: High hopes, one wondergoal & a very long road back

9. Pablo Mari

A rare European that went off to play in South America, Mari arrived at the Emirates in 2020 with his stock at its highest as a Copa Libertadores winner with Jorge Jesus’ Flamengo.

The defender’s initial loan was stunted by injury but Arsenal evidently saw enough to take up the option to sign him permanently. But he struggled to make an impact and left after loans out to Udinese and Monza.

8. Dani Ceballos

The technically gifted midfielder had his moments across his two loan stints from Real Madrid, across which he made 50 Premier League appearances, but ultimately he always left you wanting more.

Few, if any, Arsenal fans will harbour many regrets about not signing him permanently.

7. Manuel Almunia

Responsible for the odd calamitous moment, Almunia definitely wasn’t terrible. And nowadays he’s remembered as a better ‘keeper than he was given credit for at the time, which is probably fair enough.

But he was far from great, either. In the post-Lehmann era, Arsenal spent over a decade without an especially convincing presence between the sticks, and that began with Almunia.

Almunia played over 100 Premier League games for Arsenal but he never received a single cap for Spain.

READ: Ranking Arsenal’s 14 goalkeepers since Lehmann from worst to best

6. Hector Bellerin

In his early electric breakthrough outings, Bellerin looked a world-beater in the making.

Raw but absolutely rapid, the La Masia graduate appeared capable of becoming one of the best full-backs in the Premier League.

Bellerin made over 200 appearances for the Gunners and won three FA Cups, which is a brilliant return for any homegrown asset. Yet he left you waiting for him to blossom into a world-class right-back and there remains a sense that his early years remain his best after injuries took their toll.

His contract was terminated to allow him to leave for free last summer, which tells you a thing or two about how his stock had fallen. But Bellerin departed with nothing but goodwill.

Bonus points for just getting it.

5. Jose Antonio Reyes

Arriving midway through Arsenal’s legendary 2003-04 campaign, Reyes only needed a few short weeks to write himself into the club’s folklore with an iconic brace in a 2-1 FA Cup comeback victory over Chelsea.

The winger’s goals against Portsmouth and Fulham in the run-in helped Arsenal make it over the line unbeaten, and he was a key figure in the Gunners’ run to the Champions League final in 2005-06.

He was never Arsenal’s most consistent player, but football is about moments and Reyes contributed more than his fair share.

Thierry Henry described Reyes as a “wonderful player, superb teammate and exceptional human being” after his untimely death in 2019.

4. Nacho Monreal

Far from the flashiest left-back in the world, Monreal was the definition of a solid professional and a bargain at just £8.5million.

One of Arsenal’s most underrated signings of the Emirates era. Imagine having a bad word to say about Nacho Monreal.

3. Mikel Arteta

Now an exceptional coach that’s further cemented his reputation as an Arsenal great, Arteta also had a transformative impact as a player.

Wenger’s side looked at a particularly low ebb in the early weeks of the 2011-12 campaign, exemplified by that 8-2 defeat to Manchester United, but the deadline day capture of Arteta (and Per Mertesacker) helped turn the ship around.

The captain when Arsenal ended their nine-year drought in the 2014 FA Cup final, Arteta’s influence can’t be overstated.

2. Santi Cazorla

“I don’t know why the (Arsenal) fans have been so good to me as I’ve only done what I did at every club, trying to do things the right way and bringing something to the table, and the love they gave and still give me is priceless,” the playmaker reminisced about his time at the Emirates.

It’s because you were brilliant, Santi. One of the most entertaining players Arsenal have ever had.

READ: An ode to Arsenal-era Santi Cazorla, master of three different roles

1. Cesc Fabregas

It’s something of a travesty that Fabregas only won one FA Cup across his seven years at Arsenal.

Their youngest-ever debutant and captain at just 21, the midfielder was undoubtedly among the best young players in Europe during those breakthrough years.

READ NEXT: Ranking every Arsenal player by how much their transfer value has risen or fallen

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every player to appear for Arsenal under Mikel Arteta?