Top 10 Arsenal Flops – When Wenger Got it Wrong

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Arsene Wenger is undoubtedly one of the greatest and most successful foreign managers in the FA Premier League. One of the managerial skills that Frenchman Wenger is renowned for is bringing in virtually unknown players from abroad to Arsenal and making them a success in the Premiership. But on occasion, Wenger has got it wrong and bought a real stinker who was unable to win over the fans at Highbury and the Emirates. So who are the players that Wenger bought that in hindsight he wish he hadn’t and looking back at his tenure at Arsenal, who are Wenger’s transfer flops?

Boa Morte10: Luis Boa Morte – The Portuguese winger largely flattered to deceive during his time at Arsenal, and has continued to do so for the rest of his career. There is nothing much to remember about his Arsenal career, as Boa Morte is a decent player but never fulfilled the potential that Wenger obviously saw in him. He cost just £1.75 million so wasn’t much of a gamble, but many Arsenal fans will feel that Boa Morte could have become a good player and ultimately missed his opportunity.

Cygan9: Pascal Cygan – The 6 ft 4 French central defender went to Arsenal in 2002 for a fee of £2 million. For most of his 4 year career he was considered as a fringe player and failed to break into the first team due to a number of lacklustre performances. Cygan did manage to make 63 Premiership appearances for Arsenal, but when he left in 2006 the Gunners’ fans weren’t exactly disappointed as he was never really cut out to play football at the very top level.

Wiltord8: Sylvain Wiltord – Wenger signed fellow Frenchman Wiltord for a club record fee of £13 million in 2000 and did have some career highlights at Arsenal, including scoring the winning goal at Old Trafford to secure the double in 2002. However, the striker never represented good value for money and left Highbury for nothing after scoring 49 goals in 4 years. Some Arsenal fans will have fond memories of Wiltord, but Wenger never really recouped the money he spent on him.

Wreh7: Christopher Wreh – Wreh is the cousin of former FIFA World Player of the Year George Weah, and maybe Arsene thought he would have received some of Weah’s footballing genes. The Liberian striker only managed to bag 5 goals in his 3 year Arsenal career and his form steadily went into decline after one decent season in 1997/98. He ended up as their 4th choice striker behind Wright, Bergkamp and Anelka and was squeezed out after the arrival of a certain Thierry Henry.

Stepanovs6: Igors Stepanovs – When Wenger signed the Latvian defender in 2000 many Arsenal fans said who? And when he left in 2003 the story was much the same. Stepanovs never became a first team regular and Wenger may well steer clear of signing Latvian players in the future. The Latvian was out of his depth and when he partnered Grimandi in defence against Manchester United in 2001, the 6-1 defeat that followed will be a game that Arsenal fans will want to forget.

Gio5: Giovanni van Bronckhorst – Wenger signed the Dutchman in 2001 to try and fill the void left by the departure of Petit. He cost the club £8.5 million, but a serious cruciate knee ligament injury saw him slip down the pecking order and he eventually left to play for Barcelona. Gio was a reasonable player, earning almost 100 caps for Holland, but he never made it Arsenal and it was just one of those things when he failed to make a name for himself at Highbury.

Diawara4: Kaba Diawara – The less said about the Guinean striker the better, and you must wonder what Wenger was thinking when he signed him. He only spent 1 season at Arsenal, played 12 games and didn’t manage to score a goal, hardly a glowing report of his talent. He did show some promise and maybe if he had scored a goal he might have even managed another one, but we will never know and he remains one of Wenger’s worst flops.

Reyes3: Jose Antonio Reyes – Reyes never completely settled at Arsenal and his time in North London was hampered by his inconsistent performances. The Spanish winger soon became homesick after signing from Seville for £10.5 million in 2004 and said that life in London wasn’t what he thought it would be. Many fans then questioned his commitment to the club, as he was repeatedly quoted in the Spanish press as wanting a move away from the club, before he eventually left for Spain in 2006.

Wright2: Richard Wright – When Wenger was looking for a long-term replacement for David Seaman he chose Wright at his man. But the fact that he only stayed at Arsenal for 1 year of his 5 year contract tells you all you need to know about his spell at the club. His only season as Arsenal was full of high-profile errors, including punching the ball into his own net against Charlton, and Wright was soon offloaded to Everton, but he did pick up a Premier League winners’ medal for his troubles.

Jeffers1: Francis Jeffers – The striker cost Arsenal £8 million from Everton back in 2001 and that was hardly money well spent. His 4 Premiership goals for the club came at a cost of £2 million a goal, and after 3 seasons in which he only played 22 games he was shipped off to Charlton for £2.6 million. The potential that Jeffers showed at Everton was never realised at Arsenal, and his time at Highbury was dogged by injuries and Jeffers never lived up to his tag of being a ‘fox in the box.’

Not even the great Arsene Wenger can get it right all of the time and Arsenal fans would rather forget many of these players. But do any other Wenger signings deserve to be on the list?