Ranking the 19 centre-backs Arsenal have signed since Sol Campbell left

Quick Reads
Arsenal defender Ben White

Arsenal have had their fair share of defensive problems since Sol Campbell left the club to join Portsmouth in the summer of 2006.

While some centre-backs have earned the adoration of the Gunners faithful, there are plenty of others who have put in terrible performances and are remembered far from fondly.

We’ve ranked all 19 of the centre-backs signed by the club since 2006 by how they have fared at the Emirates.

19. Sebastien Squillaci

Oh, Sebastien. The Frenchman struggled during his time in north London, managing just 39 games in three years before being allowed to join Bastia for free.

This clip of Squillaci being comically calamitous kind of says it all.

18. Semi Ajayi

Currently at West Brom, Ajayi didn’t actually play for Arsenal, but there’s no way anybody can be placed below Squillaci.

17. Konstantinos Mavropanos

The Greek defender has actually looked pretty decent when he’s got onto the pitch at the Emirates, but he hasn’t really been given much of a chance.

Mavropanos is currently on loan at Stuttgart, spending a second successive campaign with the Bundesliga outfit.

16. Mikael Silvestre

Silvestre had some absolutely shocking games in an Arsenal shirt, but he did score in a 4-4 draw in the north London derby, so props for that.

15. Pablo Mari

Mari joined on loan from Flamengo in January of 2020 and impressed enough in three appearances to earn himself a permanent contract with the Gunners.

The 28-year-old was disrupted by injury problems and scored his first goal for the club against Rapid Vienna in the Europa League. He’s since recovered to become a fringe player, but it’s difficult to imagine him ever pushing beyond that.

14. Sol Campbell

Having initially left Arsenal in 2006, Campbell re-joined in January 2010, making 10 league starts to help Arsenal to a third-placed finish.

His second spell under Arsene Wenger was a short one, as the defender joined Newcastle United in the summer of the same year.

READ: An ode to Sol Campbell’s neverending slide tackle & a great England moment

13. Calum Chambers

There was a fair amount of excitement around Chambers when he arrived for a little under £20m in 2014, but he hasn’t quite lived up to the billing so far.

Now 25 years old, he’s been on loan to Middlesbrough and Fulham and has struggled with injuries. Still, he’s played over 100 times for the Gunners.

12. Gabriel Paulista

Arsenal fans had been longing to see some aggression and passion in their team for years when Gabriel Paulista joined in 2015, but the defender may have taken it a bit far.

He averaged a yellow card every four games and was even labelled a “hot head” by Arsene Wenger before being sold at a small loss to Valencia in 2017.


11. Shkodran Mustafi

When Arsenal signed a World Cup-winning defender in 2016, they hoped that they had finally found the man to command their defence for a decade.

The Germany international has helped the club win FA Cups and the Community Shield, but he’s also had his fair share of calamitous moments in an Arsenal shirt.

10. William Saliba

Despite being one of the most highly-rated young defenders in Europe, Saliba was frozen out by Mikel Arteta and is yet to make his first-team appearance for the club.

The only reason he has got ahead of a fair few others on this list is that there is still so much time for the 20-year-old to come good. Also, he looks the business back in France. We still believe.

READ: William Saliba at Marseille: From Arsenal outcast to Ligue 1 superstar

9. Sokratis

Sokratis always put in an honest performance when he got on the pitch, and like Paulista, was an absolute warrior.

There were undeniably key limitations to the 32-year-old’s game though, and that saw him fall down the pecking order under Mikel Arteta before his sale to Olympiakos.

8. William Gallas

We still can’t forgive Gallas for inheriting Dennis Bergkamp’s No.10 shirt.

The former France international made 142 appearances for the Gunners and was even made captain but the lasting memory from his spell at the club was when he sat down on the pitch and threw a strop after a 2-2 draw with Birmingham in 2008.

READ: Ranking the worst misdemeanours by Arsenal captains: Xhaka, Gallas, RVP…


7. David Luiz

While Luiz’s time at the Emirates has been punctuated by a catalogue of errors, he can be a bloody good footballer on his day.

The Brazil international endured a horrific cameo against Manchester City but then starred in their FA Cup semi-final and final victories a few weeks later. What an enigma.

READ: A forensic analysis of David Luiz’s mad 30 minutes for Arsenal against Man City

6. Rob Holding

Holding joined Arsenal from Bolton Wanderers in a £2million deal in 2016 but struggled to establish himself as a first-team regular under Arsene Wenger or Unai Emery.

The 26-year-old has had a revival at Arsenal under Mikel Arteta, becoming one of the first names on the teamsheet. He’s also pretty good with the ball at his feet for a centre-back.

5. Ben White

It’s still very early days for White, who endured a difficult debut up against Ivan Toney in a 2-0 defeat at newly-promoted Brentford, but he’s looked very steady ever since.

Placing White so high could make us look very daft when we check back on this list in a year or two, but we’re sticking our neck out – he’s well worth £50million.

READ: Ben White’s surging runs can drag Arteta’s young Arsenal forward

4. Gabriel Magalhaes

Gabriel was one of the few positives during their disastrous start to the 2020-21 season, winning three consecutive Arsenal Player of the Month awards.

There’s been the odd shaky moment since, but the Brazilian’s mostly looked very comfortable in north London and his aerial dominance makes him look a perfect partner for White.

3. Thomas Vermaelen

After joining Arsenal from Ajax in 2009, Vermaelen enjoyed an impressive debut season at the Emirates and earned a place in the PFA Team of the Year.

He was appointed club captain in 2012 but was sidelined with injury problems during a significant part of his time at the Emirates.

2. Per Mertesacker

Mertesacker’s incredible performance in the 2017 FA Cup final against Chelsea ensures his place in the top two here.

READ: A forensic analysis of Per Mertesacker’s display in the 2017 FA Cup final

1. Laurent Koscielny

His time in north London may have come to a controversial end in 2019 but Koscielny was the clear winner here.

The centre-back signed for Arsenal in 2010 and became a mainstay of their defence over the next nine years, making 353 appearances in all competitions and winning three FA Cups in the process.

He was also a bargain at £8.5million.

More Arsenal

The story of Gavin Hoyte and his one Premier League game for Arsenal

Can you name Arsenal’s top 30 Premier League appearance makers of all time?

Where are they now? Arsenal’s XI from Laurent Koscielny’s debut v Barnet

The 11 Arsenal wonderkids on FM2021: Balogun, Saliba, Saka & more