Ranking Unai Emery’s 12 signings as Arsenal manager from worst to best
Unai Emery has come under a lot of criticism as Arsenal manager. But if he was sacked, what would his legacy be in terms of the signings he’s left behind?
A lot of talented players have come into the squad since the Spaniard succeeded Arsene Wenger, alongside some more questionable additions. As ever, this is a bit of a mixed bag.
We’ve ranked them from worst to best, including those to have joined the Gunners on loan since the summer of 2018.
12. Denis Suarez
His half-season loan spell from Barcelona amounted to just six fairly forgettable appearances.
Nice one, Arsenal.
11. Stephan Lichtsteiner
A serial title winner with Juventus and prime sh*thouse, it was hoped that Lichtsteiner would bring a bit of nastiness that’s been lacking since Patrick Vieira and the Invincibles era.
Arsenal undoubtedly saw some of that but not much else. The veteran’s one-year stint at Arsenal came and went without him leaving much of an impression.
10. David Luiz
One of the most Jekyll & Hyde players of the modern era, the Brazilian centre-half was absolutely brilliant in Chelsea’s title win under Antonio Conte in 2017, and he was also reliable as PSG won back-to-back Ligue 1 titles during his two-year spell in France.
There’s a sense he’s a great player in a well-drilled, organised and settled set-up, and very much not if those qualities are lacking (see: Brazil 1-7 Germany). A perfect addition to Arsenal’s backline, then.
9. Dani Ceballos
Raved about as Spain’s next supremely gifted technical midfielder from his performances at Real Betis and Spain’s Under-21s, he’s yet to have really made the step-up for Real Madrid since joining in 2017, struggling for opportunities.
It’s very early days, but it’s been a similar story at the Emirates so far and there’s a sense that fans are still waiting to see the player thought of so highly in his home country.
8. Nicolas Pepe
Arsenal’s record signing has shown some moments of quality – not least scoring two free-kicks in a 15-minute cameo to turn defeat to victory in the Europa League – but for £72million, the Gunners might have expected the Ivorian to settle a little quicker.
He scored 22 goals in Ligue 1 for Lille last season but is yet to notch from open play for Arsenal.
NICOLAS PEPE HAS DONE IT AGAIN! 🔥
He rips a free-kick into the top corner in added time to snatch all three points!
Sensational strike! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/HLZ6NVZjaU
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 24, 2019
There were some question marks over Sokratis’ performances at his former club Borussia Dortmund, but he looked to have answered his critics as a frequent fixture during a nine-match winning run in the early days of Emery’s tenure.
Not the most sophisticated ball-playing centre-half, he’s nevertheless been reasonably solid defensively and among their better individuals, often with chaos surrounding him.
Crying out for a better partner.
6. Kieran Tierney
Said to be the best talent that Celtic have produced in years, the 22-year-old really should be the solution to Arsenal’s left-back problem. Struggling with injuries over the summer, he’s looked decent while steadily getting bedded in during the Europa League run.
It’s unfortunate that he’s finally fit and getting his break at a time when the team around him looks a fractured mess.
5. William Saliba
The teenage centre-half from Saint-Etienne’s reputation has no doubt been done the world of good for not actually having to play for Emery’s Arsenal, but he’s a hell of a prospect.
Going back on loan to the club at which he broke through to such acclaim as a 17-year-old last season, that further development will no doubt do Saliba a lot of good. Glamour clubs from all over Europe were reportedly vying for his signature, so it was quite a coup for Arsenal to get his signature.
4. Lucas Torreira
He looked a little rottweiler of a player in his early weeks, showing the kind of off-the-ball tenacity, energy and commitment that Arsenal have so often lacked in midfield.
The early hype even saw him draw comparisons to N’Golo Kante, but that’s looking a little more fanciful now as Torreira’s faded over the course of 2019.
In and out of the team with questions of his best position, he’s yet to consistently recapture the form of his early performances, but as with so many players on this list there’s a sense he could be brilliant in a less dysfunctional set-up.
3. Bernd Leno
Deservedly displaced a declining Petr Cech last season, the German international goalkeeper has made up for a couple of questionable moments with some spectacular saves.
He’s only kept eight clean sheets in 45 Premier League appearances but can scarcely be blamed.
2. Matteo Guendouzi
It’s easy to forget that Guendouzi is still just 20 years old, given the standard of his performances in the centre of the pitch for Arsenal last season. Adept at breaking the lines, comfortable under pressure, dedicated out of possession.
Like almost everyone around him, he’s not enjoying the best season this year and evidently has more developing to do, but he’s way ahead of schedule.
1. Gabriel Martinelli
The young Brazilian looks an absolute bargain at a reported fee of £6million. One of the few bright sparks of their miserable 2019-20 campaign, he’s been prolific when handed opportunities, scoring seven goals in five starts.
He also came off the bench to rescue a point against Southampton by setting up Alexandre Lacazette, following an abject performance from the team in his absence.
The tabloids are reporting Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are unhappy and eyeing the exit door, but losing them might not be a disaster with this supremely gifted forward coming through behind them.