The 17 players Arsenal have signed from La Liga and how they fared

Quick Reads

Thomas Partey is the 17th player Arsenal have signed from La Liga in the Premier League era – but how much success have the Gunners had shopping in Spain?

Partey developed into one of the best all-round midfielders in Europe under Diego Simeone but has decided to swap life in La Liga for north London.

We’ve taken a look at how Arsenal’s previous 16 signings from La Liga since 1992 have fared.

Dani Ceballos

So good they signed him twice, Dani Ceballos is on a second successive season-long loan from Real Madrid.

The highly-rated midfielder, who has won European Championships for both Spain’s Under-21s and Under-19s, took time to settle at the Emirates in 2019-20 but grew into the season and eventually became a vital player for Mikel Arteta’s project.

If he continues on the same trajectory in his second year in north London, he’ll be a real asset for the Gunners.

Dani Ceballos and Eddie Nketiah

READ: With two tackles and one turn, Dani Ceballos personified Arteta’s Arsenal

Denis Suarez

Tipped for big things ever since Manchester City signed him as a 17-year-old back in 2011, Suarez never quite hit the heights some expected in a nomadic and injury-hit career to date but has occasionally shown flashes.

He’s now finding his feet at Celta Vigo, but a short half-season stint at Arsenal in 2019 was a particularly underwhelming chapter in his career, with injuries limiting him to just four Premier League appearances.

“I wasn’t comfortable,” he later told The Guardian. “I don’t think I was even at 50%. After 15 days of being at Arsenal, I wasn’t right. From the 16th I wasn’t even at 50%.”

Lucas Perez

He’d taken a long way to the top, having played in the reserves for Atletico Madrid and Rayo Vallecano before stints with Ukrainian side Karpaty Lviv and Greek club PAOK.

But back in Spain at the age of 27, he enjoyed the season of his life, scoring 17 La Liga goals for Deportivo La Coruna in 2015-16 – enough for Arsenal to sanction a £17million move for his signature.

Unfortunately, Perez never quite staked a convincing claim to lead the line for the Gunners, with the majority of his opportunities coming from the bench.

He scored a respectable seven goals in 21 appearances in all competitions before being loaned back to Deportivo the following year and eventually sold to West Ham. It’s always West Ham.

Shkodran Mustafi

Believe it or not, but a Shkodran Mustafi-Nicolas Otamendi pairing was actually pretty solid and switched-on at Valencia, and their partnership at the back was a big reason they qualified for the Champions League under Nuno Espirito Santo back in 2015.

Perhaps Arsenal should have put more stock in his performances during the 2015-16 season, in which Mustafi struggled as Nuno was sacked and eventually replaced by a beleaguered Gary Neville. The German World Cup winner has trodden that same path for the majority of his error-strewn four years at Arsenal.

He’s not been an unmitigated disaster – he wouldn’t have made over 140 appearances for three different managers if he was a total no-hoper – but he’s rarely exuded calm in the Gunners backline.

Gabriel Paulista

Arsenal fans will hope that their new signing, Gabriel Magalhaes, doesn’t share the same foibles as his namesake Gabriel Paulista.

He’d been solid in La Liga for Villarreal but had a costly tendency to have concentration lapses during his two and a half years at Arsenal and was subsequently sold at a small loss to Valencia.

Alexis Sanchez

A bargain at £31million from Barcelona in 2014, the Chilean forward arguably enjoyed the best spell of his career at Arsenal and was absolutely electric at his peak.

Not only did he score 80 goals in 166 appearances for the club, but he helped fire them two FA Cups in 2015 and 2017.

His replacement, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, signed in a swap deal from Manchester United, couldn’t fill his boots but the last few years of Sanchez’s career have shown they chose the right time to say goodbye back in January 2018.

READ: Alexis Sanchez & the tragedy of seeing great players reduced to punchlines

Mesut Ozil

Now one of the Premier League’s most expensive bench-warmers, don’t forget just how good Mesut Ozil was in his first few years at Arsenal.

He registered 19 assists as Arsenal finished runners-up to Leicester in the 2015-16 season. Nineteen! He was an artist, and we really miss watching that Ozil.

READ: The six stages of Mesut Özil’s career: German wunderkind to Arsenal enigma

Nacho Monreal

Monreal was a relatively unknown 26-year-old when he moved to north London from Malaga in a £8.5million deal in January 2013.

The defender soon became a fan favourite at the Emirates, making over 250 appearances for the Gunners and winning three FA Cups in the process.

Santi Cazorla

Speaking of fan favourites, Cazorla enjoyed a brilliant debut season for Arsenal after signing from Malaga in 2012, registering 12 goals and 14 assists in 49 appearances.

The Spain international continued to impress and almost always turned up in the big games before injury problems ended his time in north London.

“When you are at a big club like Arsenal, sometimes you don’t realise what it means to be there until you are gone. I never got to say a proper goodbye,” Cazorla told The Independent in November 2019.

“It was the biggest team I played for in my career and I miss everything about Arsenal.”

Santi Cazorla

READ: A tribute to Santi Cazorla, master of not one, not two but three roles at Arsenal

Sebastien Squillaci

Squillaci was brought in from Sevilla in 2010 to fix Arsenal’s leaky defence but just seemed to make matters worse.

The centre-back became a much-maligned figure in north London and was released by the club after making just 23 Premier League appearances in three years.

READ: Arsenal’s last 10 signings before Stan Kroenke – and how they fared

Julio Baptista

Baptista joined Arsenal from Real Madrid in 2006 on a one-year loan deal which saw Jose Antonio Reyes go in the opposite direction.

Despite struggling to adapt to the Premier League, the Brazil international starred in the League Cup and memorably scored four times in one game against Liverpool.

Manuel Almunia

Arsenal spent £2.5million to sign Almunia from Celta Vigo in 2002 in the hope he could provide competition to Jens Lehmann.

The goalkeeper eventually ousted the World Cup winner in the 2007-08 season and the pair were involved in a training ground spat

“The problems came when I was very excited and very fit, training well with so much energy and at that same time [Lehmann] wasn’t having his best time at Arsenal, so when Arsene Wenger decided to change the No.1… he’s a winner and he took it very badly, which is normal,” Almunia told The Athletic in December 2019.

“He’s a national-team goalkeeper, big name, and I’m a small goalkeeper from Spain who comes along and makes it difficult for him – he’s thinking, ‘What the hell? This is not possible?’ So yes, we had difficult moments.”

After making a number of high-profile mistakes, he fell behind Wojciech Szczesny in the pecking order and was released in 2012.

Jose Antonio Reyes

Reyes arrived at Arsenal from Sevilla in January 2004, with the Spaniard helping the Gunners complete their unbeaten season in the Premier League.

Despite making a bright start to his Arsenal career, he struggled for consistency and never truly settled in north London.

The winger spent the 2006-07 season on loan at Real Madrid before signing for rivals Atletico Madrid on a permanent deal.

Cesc Fabregas

God we miss him – his face, his right foot, his penchant for throwing pizza at Fergie.

READ: Where are they now? Arsenal’s 11 youngest Premier League goalscorers

Lauren

Recalling the ferocity of the Arsenal squad he joined, Lauren recently told The Guardian: “We get to the dressing room and Gilberto says, ‘Bro, is everyone mad here?’ From the next day on, he never once took his shin pads off – and we’re talking Gilberto Silva. We were hard, everyone wanted to win. And that showed on the pitch.”

An underrated sh*thouse, Lauren joined Arsenal from Real Mallorca in 2000 and established himself as a cult hero across seven years in north London, making almost 250 appearances and winning two titles and three FA Cups.

The right-back then joined Portsmouth, where he won another FA Cup, before ending his career with a short spell at Cordoba.

Davor Suker

A star of the 1998 World Cup, where he won the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer, Suker left Real Madrid to join Arsenal a year later but failed to hit the same heights.

The striker scored a not-too shabby 11 goals in all competitions in his only season in north London but will be best remembered for missing in the penalty shootout as Arsenal lost to Galatasaray in the 2000 UEFA Cup final.

Naturally, that was enough to convince West Ham to sign him…


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