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Reviewing Arsene Wenger’s Transfer Flops

Arsene Wenger is widely regarded as an alchemist in football because of his amazing ability to unearth a rare gem before putting it through a thorough refining process so that it could shine beyond doubt like changing lead to gold in the days of old. Down the years, rare gems have been unraveled at Arsenal and the world bowed at their feet.

In 2004, the world stared in bewilderment as Thierry Henry swept England aside with his va va voom style of play that had sultry dribbling skills, amazing bursts of pace and lots of goals. However, Henry’s exploits on the pitch were not enough as he was ousted from the top of the pile that year by a fellow Frenchman and the Pope of Modern-day Football, His Royal Football Holiness Zinedine Zidane.

Arsene Wenger can actually start his own movie series of all the signings he has made since his arrival 15 years ago but I’ll like to have a look at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly even though my main focus is on the transfer flops that I can regard as the ugly.

The Good

This is the class that belongs to the best players brought to the club by Arsene Wenger. Thierry Henry certainly tops this list and in my opinion, Cesc Fabregas comes in at second place. Other great players like Robert Pires, Nicolas Anelka and Patrick Vieira are also in the list. Recently, Gunners like Aaron Ramsey, Thomas Vermaelen, Bacary Sagna and Robin van Persie have been proudly inducted to the list.

The Bad

The list called ‘bad’ doesn’t necessarily mean that their performances on the pitch were atrocious. I prefer to throw more light on their attitude towards the twilight of their Arsenal careers. Mercenary William Gallas can certainly regarded as a bad boy in this list after singlehandedly destroying the team’s morale following Gael Clichy’s error against Birmingham in the 2007/08 season before his shenanigans off the pitch became enough for him to be stripped off the Arsenal captaincy.

There’s also a sub-category of bad boys that decided to let go off Arsenal for the lure of the big greens and they include players like Emmanuel Adebayor, Ca$hley Cuntly Cole, Mathieu the Flanimal and more recently, $amir Na$ri.

The Ugly

Oh my, these guys are the reason behind this post. I want to write about those specific Gunners that left the fans with fright anytime they set their feet on the field of play. The Gunners that gave some of the fans nightmares at night as well as some moments of humor that ultimately led to something Arsenal had to pay for. I’ll also write about those Gunners that filled up the fans with high expectations before bringing them back down to Earth. They include:

Pascal Cygan

When Arsene Wenger went to Lille to acquire the services of a Bald Frenchie, a mildly calamitous fellow was unveiled to the world and his name was Pascal Cygan. As a player, he had some height and showed signs of great strength and stamina but he was always suspect for his natural defending that led in some pretty clever own goals. Cygan also lacked pace and he was exploited by opposition forwards countless times. Shortly after leaving the Gunners, the Frenchman found a new job at Villarreal CF and he uncharacteristically played a good number of games before age shackled him up.

Mikael Silvestre

Mikael Silvestre can be likened to a fresh first-class graduate from a university who fails horribly in his job interviews and job offer examinations because he got his degree by being a member of a clique of highly intelligent students. Silvestre’s football CV has it all, European Championship with France, league titles and even a Champions League title with Manchester United but he defends like a toddler that’s trying to find his feet.

Arsenal and Manchester United are not known for doing transfer business with each other but when tales were emerging that Arsene Wenger was having talks with Sir Alex Ferguson over one of his players, everybody believed that it was going to be a young lad that’ll win the league for Arsenal in 2035 but alas, it was a £750,000 signing called Mikael Silvestre. A signing so poor that he graced the Arsenal faithful with an own goal in his very first game.

Denilson Perreira Neves

When this lad was brought from Sao Paulo in 2006, Arsene Wenger had very high hopes for him because he arrived at the club when age was slowly catching up with the loyal veteran Gilberto Silva who had lost his partner Patrick Vieira to Juventus.

The youngster couldn’t challenge a first team place with the presence of Gilberto, Mathieu Flamini the Flanimal and Lassana Diarra but he found himself on the front foot when these three players mysteriously vanished from Arsenal in quick succession. He’ll remember the 2008/09 campaign fondly because he played a bucketload of games even if he made little or no impact on the field.

Whether he was with a low cut, an Afro or braided hair, Denilson was plain ol’ Denilson and a certain Aaron Ramsey came from the shadows to usurp him for a starting berth before being halted from his brilliant steep learning curve following a horrific injury he suffered from a Ryan Shawcross tackle. Jack Wilshere also came into the limelight and dashed Denilson’s hopes of starting games at Arsenal. This made him smuggle himself into a Brazilian man’s boat and move over to the other side of the Atlantic to play again for his previous employers.

Julio Baptista

In the streets of Brazil, a certain club bouncer thought a lot and believed that he could also make it in football due to the fact that every Brazilian has three blood cells, the Red Blood Cell, the White Blood Cell and the Spherical Star-designed White and Black Blood Cell that clearly looks like the Adidas Finale when viewed under a microscope.

Julio Baptista was clearly a beast in Sevilla as he kept banging goals for fun but chose the splendor of Real Madrid ahead of Arsenal when Arsene Wenger came for his services. He found out in the worst possible way that the grass is certainly not greener on the other side before making a transition to the club that wanted him a few season’s back, Arsenal.

Jose Antonio Reyes went the other way and the Beast wasted no time in taking his fabled Number 9 jersey. Baptista clearly had a thing for the Carling Cup but his performances in the other three competitions were quite shambolic.

He has moved on to AS Roma before making a switch to Malaga where he has found his feet again. He’s another example proving the class the Barclay’s Premier League has over Liga BBVA. I hope that Lionel Messi would come over and prove me wrong so Manchester City, put your money where your mouth is and do what you’re renowned for.

Carlos Vela

If I get a pound for every time Carlos Vela and tales of his massive potential have been mentioned by Arsene Wenger, fellow players, many Arsenal bloggers and media Vultures alike, I’ll probably have enough funds to outbid Manchester City for the services of $amir Na$ri.

Cesc Fabregas shone in an Under-17 tournament, was snapped up by Arsenal and became the best 24-year old attacking midfielder of his generation. Carlos Vela won the Golden Boot in an Under-17 tourney and was snapped up by Arsenal like Fabregas but work permit issues didn’t allow make the move to North London immediately.

Arsene Wenger did what a good father would do to his child, he sent him to clubs in Europe where he was sure that Vela would be able to challenge for a first team place. After several loan spells in Spain, 2008 was touted as the year of the Aztec Warrior and his super hat-trick against Sheffield United left Arsenal fans drooling with the prospect of seeing more. Shortly after that…..

Carlos Vela is still an Arsenal player because Wenger still believes that someday he’ll come good and age is certainly on his side. He’s presently plying his trade in Real Sociedad and every gooner hopes that he’ll come back with a bang next season.

I’m sure that the list of Arsene Wenger’s transfer flops is pretty endless with the likes of Igor Stepanovs, Francis Jeffers, Richard Wright, and Sebastian Squillaci all worth a mention, but I’ll pull the plug here.

Who would be on your list of Wenger flops?



  1. Wasiu

    November 16, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Flamini’s departure was caused by a mere 5000 pounds a wk. Blame the board 4 that he was our best player that season. What about Bischoff, oleg luhzny, anelka

    • chris from Cambridge

      November 16, 2011 at 11:04 am

      Anelka scored goals, frequently set up by Bergkamp. He had skill and terrific pace. He left Arsenal while still very young because his brothers were his ‘agent ‘ and moved him on for a huge fee. Anelka was NOT a failure at Arsenal. No way.

    • Ross

      November 16, 2011 at 3:32 pm

      I remember The Marseille coach calling Flamini’s renege on their verbal deal “beautiful treason” after he signed for Arsenal. He then did a similar thing to us, Wenger was convinced he’d re-sign.

      Also, it’s unlikely he left over 5k/week; Flamini, at the time of signing for Milan became one of the top ten earners in Serie A. The figures of those earners are way out of Arsenal’s price range, even Henry’s salary paled in comparison to the likes of Kaka, Gattuso, Pirlo and co. and yet one season wonder Flamini was right up there with them. His agent must earn his keep.

  2. eli

    November 16, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Vela at 125,000 dollars. Makes you think his move was more of a reason to sell shirts than to play him. He outshone Bendter, and Walcott yet only has 3 starts for Arsenal in the EPL. He is done at Arsenal, wish him luck. I hope Joel doesnt get this treatment.

  3. ogban

    November 16, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Can Baptista really be counted as a signing? Methinks no!

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