Arthur next? Arsenal’s 12 signings on loan since 2000 – & how they fared

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Martin Odegaard celebrates his goal in the North London Derby, Emirates Stadium, March 2021

Arthur Melo is rumoured to be on his way to the Emirates to join Arsenal on loan for the rest of the 2021-22 season.

The Brazilian midfielder has found himself short of game time at Juventus and is seen as a quality solution to Arsenal’s short numbers in midfield.

The 25-year-old, who previously played for Barcelona, would be the thirteenth player to join the Gunners on loan since the turn of the century, and there have been some mixed results in that time.

We’ve revisited Arsenal’s 12 previous loanees since 2000.

Junichi Inamoto

Inamoto arrived in north London for the 2001-02 season on loan from Gamba Osaka with a view to a permanent £4million move.

Then 21, the midfielder failed to appear in the Premier League as Arsenal won the Double, making just three appearances in all competitions.

He returned to England on a two-year loan deal to Fulham where he featured more prominently, and also enjoyed spells at West Brom and Cardiff City.

Having also spent time in Turkey, Germany and France, he’s still going at the age of 42 for Japanese outfit SC Sagamihara, but his contract expires in February 2022.

Julio Baptista

Signed as part of the deal that saw Jose Antonio Reyes move in the opposite direction, Baptista failed to live up to his reputation with Arsenal, although he will always be fondly remembered for that four-goal haul in a League Cup win at Anfield.

The former Brazil international retired in 2019 after a short spell in Romania with Cluj, where he became one of the best-paid footballers per minute played, having earned €4,186 per minute in the 43 minutes he played across four months.

READ: The curious career of Julio Baptista: Sevilla star to Real & Arsenal outcast

Yossi Benayoun

One of the Premier League’s most graceful players to watch, Benayoun’s best days may have come at West Ham and Liverpool, but while Chelsea were happy to cut ties with the playmaker after just one season at Stamford Bridge, their loss was Arsenal’s gain.

He only played 19 times in the Premier League for the Gunners but was often the man for the big occasion, notably impressing against Tottenham and Manchester City while also scoring in the last two games of the season to secure a top-four finish.

Benayoun finally called it a day at the end of 2018-19, taking to the field at Beitar Jerusalem with one of his children clad in an Arsenal shirt.

READ: Yossi Benayoun: The featherweight footballer who packed a punch

Thierry Henry

The return of the King brought with it one of the Emirates’ greatest moments as Henry came off the bench to score a last-gasp winner against Leeds United in the FA Cup.

He should have just walked off and ended his career at that moment, really.

Emiliano Viviano

Signing an Italy international as your third-choice backup and not even needing him to make a single appearance is decent business to be fair.

Kim Kallstrom

Signing a Championship Manager 01/02 legend in 2014 despite discovering a back injury in his medical is interesting business, shall we say?

Still, he scored his penalty in the FA Cup semi-final win over Wigan and described it as “the greatest 15 minutes of my life”, which is nice.

Denis Suarez

“After 15 days of being at Arsenal, I wasn’t right. From the 16th I wasn’t even at 50%,” Suarez told The Guardian in an attempt to explain how injury prevented him from showing anything near his best at the Emirates.

The midfielder arrived on loan from Barcelona for the second half of the 2018-19 season but played just 67 minutes in the Premier League, before moving on to Celta Vigo.

Unai Emery thought he’d hit the jackpot by landing his former student, but no one gained anything here.

Dani Ceballos

The Spanish midfielder joined the club on loan in August 2019, and wowed everyone on his full debut with a man-of-the-match performance against Burnley.

He would go on to have a decent enough season, scoring a last-minute winner in the FA Cup quarter-final en route to lifting the trophy, and Mikel Arteta chose to keep him for a second loan spell.

His second campaign, however, was a disaster, with a string of costly errors in Arsenal’s Europa League run infuriating fans, before his red card in the first leg of the semi-final against Villarreal effectively ended their chances.

Arsenal chose not to make a permanent move for Ceballos, and he returned to Real Madrid.

Cedric Soares

One of the few to turn permanent, everything about this loan deal seemed bizarre.

Arsenal were not short of depth at full-back in January 2020, so there was much surprise when they paid Southampton to take Cedric on loan.

Cedric was out of favour at St Mary’s and was actually injured when he arrived at the club. He was still injured when he was offered a four-year deal, and made his debut over six months after his initial arrival.

The Portuguese international has been less than impressive since, and many questioned why he was offered a permanent deal when he failed to make a single appearance during his time on loan.

Pablo Mari

Arsenal were in need of defensive quality during January 2020, and there was some excitement when Copa Libertadores-winning centre-back Pablo Mari arrived on loan from Flamengo.

However, Mari played just one and a half league games before picking up an ankle injury against Manchester City which saw him miss the rest of the season. Arsenal still opted to buy him permanently for around £7million, and after some unconvincing performances, he looks to be on his way out.

Another loan turned permanent which simply did not work out.

Martin Odegaard

Arguably the biggest success on this list, Odegaard arrived on loan with a lot of hype.

The former wonderkid was not given a chance by Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid, and came to North London in search of first-team football.

Despite not being fully fit for most of his loan spell, Odegaard scored in a North London Derby and ran the show against West Ham in a 3-3 draw.

His performances were so promising that Arsenal then splashed out £35million to make the move permanent, and are now reaping the rewards, with the Norway captain flourishing in the No.10 role at the Emirates.

Mat Ryan

The Aussie goalkeeper arrived out of nowhere on loan in January 2021 as cover for Bernd Leno, and played just one league game, a 1-0 loss to Aston Villa.

Ryan gave a decent account of himself during his spell at his boyhood club, before returning to La Liga with Real Sociedad. Nice bloke who meant well.


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