Former Arsenal manager Unai Emery

Where are they now? The 12 signings Unai Emery made as Arsenal boss

Unai Emery was always destined for a tough gig at Arsenal by replacing Arsene Wenger and the 12 signings he made at the club were a bit of a mixed bag.

Of course, right now Emery is flying high with Aston Villa and the Gunners have gone from strength to strength under Mikel Arteta. The Spanish boss lasted just over a year in the Arsenal job and he made some interesting signings along the way.

We’ve gone back through Emery’s tenure at the Emirates and have checked out where his 12 signings are today.

David Luiz

The Brazilian centre-half became Emery’s first signing at Arsenal as he arrived from Chelsea in August 2019 for a reported fee of £8million. While he did produce some memorable moments in an Arsenal shirt, Luiz was guilty of several high-profile mistakes during his stay in north London.

Upon Emery leaving the club, Luiz quickly followed suit himself and returned to Brazil to sign for Flamengo. He’s managed to get his hands on some silverware in South America too, winning both the Copa Libertadores and Copa do Brasil last year.

Brazil international David Luiz celebrating winning the Champions League with Chelsea in 2012 (left) and the Copa Libertadores with Flamengo (2022)

READ: The 13 players to win the Champions League & Copa Libertadores: Neymar, David Luiz…

Kieran Tierney

The Scottish full-back has often been a reliable performer at Arsenal, but injuries have hugely hampered his career of late. Oleksandr Zinchenko dislodged Tierney from the starting XI last season which prompted the 26-year-old to join Real Sociedad on loan.

Despite a promising start to his La Liga stint, a hamstring injury has kept him sidelined for the majority of the season so far. He made his return to action against Osasuna at the weekend and will be hoping for an injury-free second half of the season.

Nicolas Pepe

While Pepe did showcase some flashes of quality, this signing ultimately went down as a huge flop. Considering Emery splashed a record fee for the winger at the time, Pepe largely struggled to live up to the hype.

The 28-year-old spent last season on loan with Nice and was allowed to leave the club on a free transfer in the summer, despite still having another year to run on his Arsenal contract.

Pepe penned a deal with Turkish club Trabzonspor in September and has managed to produce three goal contributions in his first six matches.

Dani Ceballos

The Real Madrid midfielder spent two seasons on loan with Arsenal and is now back playing for the Spanish giants. Under Carlo Ancelotti, Ceballos is mostly utilised as a squad player with the majority of his appearances coming from the bench.

William Saliba

The French defender never got the chance to play under Emery, but he was signed under the Spanish boss. Saliba’s career path has been fairly unique as he spent the first three years of his Arsenal career out on loan.

That experience has clearly benefited the 22-year-old, however, as he returned to Arsenal last year a different player. Now considered as one of the best defenders in the Premier League, it’s fair to say this was a successful signing for Emery.

Gabriel Martinelli

Martinelli showed flashes of quality under Emery and Arteta has been able to take his game to the next level. Signed from Ituano for just £6million, what a bargain this has turned out to be.

He enjoyed the best goalscoring campaign of his career to date last season with 15 strikes in the Premier League alone. Still only 22 years old, the sky is the limit for the dynamic winger.

Denis Suarez

Emery snapped up Suarez on loan from Barcelona in the 2019 January window, but he struggled to make much of an impression in north London. He made just six appearances before he promptly returned to Spain.

Following his disappointing spell with Arsenal, Barcelona quickly shipped him to Celta Vigo where he spent the following three seasons. However, after falling out with club president Carlos Mourino, he joined Espanyol on loan and then Villarreal on a permanent basis.

Matteo Guendouzi

Emery splashed a reported fee of £7million on Guendouzi in the summer of 2018 and there was plenty of hype surrounding the French midfielder at the time.

The Frenchman was certainly no stranger to a yellow card and his disciplinary record perhaps cost him his Arsenal career in the end. After being deemed surplus to requirements under Arteta, Guendouzi was forced to forge a career elsewhere.

He probably played the best football of his career in a Marseille shirt and the 24-year-old was on the move once again this summer, joining Serie A outfit Lazio on loan for the season.

Lucas Torreira

The scrappy Uruguayan midfielder looked like a decent signing in his early days at Arsenal, but his form eventually took a dip and he was never able to get back to those same standards.

Arteta soon disregarded him and he spent his final two seasons at the club out on loan before he secured a permanent move to Galatasaray last year. Torreira is now one of the many former Premier League stars who seem to be loving life in Turkey right now.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos

Papastathopoulos never really lived up to the hype in an Arsenal shirt and he was promptly replaced after just two seasons. Upon his departure from Arsenal, Sokratis returned to his native country to sign for Olympiacos.

Following his deal in Greece expiring in the summer, the 35-year-old defender penned a one-year deal with Real Betis in October.

Stephan Lichtsteiner

Lichtsteiner was in the twilight of his career when Arsenal signed him on a free transfer in 2018. He only spent one season in north London and hung up his boots in 2020 after a similarly short spell with FC Augsburg.

Bernd Leno

The German goalkeeper made over 100 appearances for Arsenal across his four years with the club. Leno was the established number one, until Aaron Ramsdale’s arrival in 2021–22.

Sensing that his first team opportunities were going to be limited under Arteta, he made the move to Fulham in 2022 and hasn’t looked back since. If anything, he’s managed to up his game since leaving the Emirates.

Last season, Leno prevented nine goals in the Premier League for Fulham, a stat which was only bettered by Alisson in the previous campaign.

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