Arsenal have been one of the successful teams in the Premier League since it began, nearly 30 years ago. Winning the title three times during this era, they have set benchmarks and some of the sport’s biggest legends have worn the famous red and white kit. However, that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been a few signings along the way that the Arsenal faithful would like to forget. From expensive flops to just bizarre personas, they all have stayed in Arsenal fans’ memories for all the wrong memories. Here are the six worst Arsenal signings in the Premier League.
Six worst Arsenal signings
During his time with Ipswich Town, Richard Wright showed the potential to be one of England’s best goalkeepers of the 2000s. Looking for a long-term replacement for David Seaman, The Gunners signed Wright after Ipswich’s stellar 5th place finish in the 2000/01 season. What a mistake it proved to be.
He had his chance to prove himself when Seaman got injured early on in the 2001/02 season however costly mistakes against Charlton Athletic and Deportivo La Coruna had some doubting his ability. The icing on the cake came against arch-rivals Tottenham where another error allowed Gus Poyet to score a last-minute equalizer just weeks later. He was soon dropped in favour of Stuart Taylor and left for Everton at the end of that season. He is now a goalkeeping coach for Man City so everything worked out in the end despite this blip.
Being touted as the successor to Tony Adams was always going to be difficult for Pascal Cygan to live up to. Indeed, he failed so spectacularly that he makes our list of the worst signings which Arsenal have made in the last 30 years.
Cygan always looked shaky at the back alongside veterans like Martin Keown and struggled to adapt to life in the Premier League. Not known for pace or timing, the Frenchman showed that he was a staggering weak link in an otherwise formidable back four. Being in the right place at the right time, Cygan is amazingly classed as part of the 2003/04 “Invincibles” side although his regular place was taken by an emerging Kolo Toure who was still adapting from his original attacking midfield role.
A brace against Fulham in 2005 does provide a slight silver lining to a rather sullen cloud over his time in North London.
Has there ever been a more bonkers Arsenal player than Glenn Helder? Signed by George Graham in 1995, the Dutch midfielder was an unremarkable player on the pitch, struggling to influence on the wings during a difficult season for The Gunners. Thought to be a disruptive presence in the dressing room as well, Helder didn’t enamour himself to higher-ups including new manager Arsene Wenger who sent him on loan to Benfica upon arriving in 1996.
With compatriot Marc Overmars proving to be a much more effective replacement on returning to London, Helder quickly leaving for Dutch side NAC Breda in 1997. Since then, Helder has become a well-known poker player in Europe making regular TV appearances in prominent competitions.
No, this isn’t the lively maestro of the late ’90s that won two World Cups with Brazil. This Denilson was more like a cheap knock-off you would find in a dodgy market stall instead. Signed from Sao Paulo in 2006, the young midfielder showed some promising signs in his first few games, particularly with his creative touches. That was as good as it got. As time went on, Denilson’s passing and lack of defensive awareness made him a liability in the Arsenal line-up. With other stars such as Jack Wilshere and Alex Song outshining him, the Brazilian slowly got relegated to the bench and never got back. He left for Sao Paulo in 2011 and went on to enjoy some success in both UAE and Malta.
One of the strangest, and arguably worst, signings in Premier League history, Park Chu-Young joined Arsenal in 2011. Due to join Lille, he was halfway through a medical for the French side but walked out when he heard about the interest from The Gunners.
Did he prove to be the talented and shirt-selling Asian sensation that Arsene Wenger had wanted? Nope. Injury-prone and brittle in the final third, the South Korean international scored just once in 3 years – a goal in the League Cup against Bolton in 2011. Loan spells with Celta Vigo and Watford did little to prove his credentials and he was released in 2014 at the end of his contract. Surely, there couldn’t be anyone worst could there?
At Everton in the late 1990s, Francis Jeffers looked set to become the next English superstar. 18 goals in his first 49 games even backed up the hype, leading Arsenal to swoop in during the summer of 2001. His reputation would take a nose-dive over the next couple of seasons, though with Jeffers struggling to find the net whilst Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, and Sylvain Wiltord smashed goals in at regular ease.
His poor finishing ability and lack of fitness relegated him to backup status quickly and he was soon failing to make matchday squads. He never recovered from this and Jeffers left with just 8 goals in 40 appearances for Arsenal. To think Arsenal opted for Jeffers over Ruud Van Nistelrooy! Without a doubt one of the worst Arsenal signings in recent years.