Ranking Arsenal’s 11 best January signings, from good to great

Quick Reads

Arsenal are the kind of club who only tend to dip into the transfer market in January when there’s clear value, or at least they used to be.

The Gunners’ mid-season exploits used to involve youngsters like Ryo Miyaichi and Thomas Eisfeld or returning veterans such as Jens Lehmann and Sol Campbell, but they’ve occasionally bucked the trend.

Here are the club’s 11 most notable January signings in terms of impact, from the least important to the most.

11. Mohamed Elneny

Elneny might not have done a great deal for Arsenal, but he still edges out the likes of Denis Suarez and Kim Kallstrom.

No, that present tense wasn’t a mistake – Elneny is still technically an Arsenal player, albeit on loan at Besiktas for the season.

After playing 46 games in three-and-a-half years at Arsenal, he’s unlikely to be missed, but they’ll always have that goal against Barcelona.

10. Gabriel Paulista

The enduring memory of Gabriel at Arsenal will involve his losing battle with Diego Costa in a defeat to Chelsea, but there were some positives to take from the Brazilian’s spell at the Emirates.

When the centre-back arrived from Villarreal in January 2015, he was joining a team still considered by some to be flimsy at the back, and at least added steel if not consistency.

His 64 Arsenal games and one goal were broadly unremarkable. Sometimes that’s fine.

9. Carlos Vela

Considering the initial hype around Vela, he might have been expected to do a bit more in an Arsenal shirt.

A January 2005 signing from Chivas, the Mexican scored a stunning hat-trick against Sheffield United on his first start, but that proved to be a false dawn.

Eleven goals in 62 games was fine for a young player often arriving from the bench, but Arsenal could have done with better than fine, and his best work undoubtedly came after he left north London.

READ: Iconic debuts: Carlos Vela’s sensational hat-trick on his first Arsenal start

8. Jose Antonio Reyes

Reyes was another who flattered to deceive but whose high points were very high indeed.

The pinnacle was a performance against Chelsea in his first half-season, a campaign in which he made a real impact and which ended with him lifting the Premier League title as one of the Invincibles.

Despite an impressive 2004-05 season, the Spaniard never truly settled and moved back to his homeland with Real Madrid on loan and then Atletico on a permanent deal.

7. Emmanuel Eboue

An obscure signing from Beveren in January 2005, Eboue was later derided by Arsenal fans but initially offered plenty of promise down the right flank.

He made his first-team breakthrough in 2005-06 season, ending the campaign by starting the Champions League final as part of a defence that set a record 10 consecutive clean sheets in the competition.

6. Abou Diaby

We still feel really sad about Diaby, a midfielder who had It All, only for his career to be ruined by horrendous luck with injuries.

“It’s one of the saddest moments for us at Arsenal not to have had the opportunity to get the best out of Abou Diaby because of injury,” Arsene Wenger told Arsenal Player upon Diaby’s departure in 2015.

“I’m very sad because this boy is a massive and a huge talent. It’s sad as well because he didn’t deserve what he got.”

It was quite tempting to put Diaby top if only for booting John Terry in the head.

5. Andrey Arshavin

We’ll always have those four goals against Liverpool. We’ll always have Ask Arshavin.

READ: The best (and worst) of Ask Arshavin: Bears, Albert Einstein & ice cream

4. Theo Walcott

Our mates at Football365 picked out Walcott as Arsenal’s greatest ever January signing, noting: ‘For sheer value for money, return on investment and length of service, Theo Walcott is Arsenal’s greatest ever January signing.

‘He joined as a 16-year-old for £9.1million in 2006, left as a 28-year-old for £20million in 2018, played 397 games, scored 108 goals and won four trophies in the intervening 12 years.’

We disagree, but then that’s probably why we haven’t won any awards. Still, it’s hard not to think had a couple of big moments gone slightly differently for Walcott, his legacy could have been much greater.

READ: How the football Gods conspired to deny Theo Walcott Arsenal hero status

3. Emmanuel Adebayor

It’s probably best not to mention Adebayor’s name to favourably in Arsenal circles these days, but at his peak for the Gunners the striker was almost unplayable.

After Thierry Henry was sold to Barcelona in 2007, Adebayor stepped up to bag 30 goals in 48 appearances the following season. Not bad for a player picked up at the age of 21 for just £3million from Monaco.

Just don’t mention anything that happened afterwards.

READ: A rare celebration of peak Emmanuel Adebayor & his super spell at Arsenal

2. Nacho Monreal

We still feel like Monreal is the most reliable man in the world. Whether it’s converting from left-back to centre-back, offering directions or helping put up a shelf, we reckon Nacho would be there for you.

1. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pretty much every entry on this website about Aubameyang focuses on the fact only Thierry Henry has a better goals-per-game ratio in the Premier League for Arsenal.

But it bears repeating: only Thierry Henry has a better goals-per-game ratio in the Premier League for Arsenal.


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