Arsenal FC: Ranking Arsene Wenger's Summer Buys

Bell Malley@milesmalleyAnalyst IIIMay 22, 2012

Arsenal FC: Ranking Arsene Wenger's Summer Buys

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    Arsenal's start to the season was marred by the departures of regulars Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy.

    To try to ease the Gunners' players and fans' pain, Arsene Wenger made seven summer purchases, not counting loan deals.

    These players all played some kind of role in a year when the Gunners finished a surprising third. Buying players in their prime has never been synonymous with Wenger's name, but he still did so this season.

    I will grade and rank the seven players who were added to Arsenal on the long-term. This does not include loan deals for Yossi Benayoun or Thierry Henry because part of the grade is determined by short-term impact.

    The moves for players that have started in the academy, on the reserves or immediately out on loan will not be included either.


7. Park-Chu Young

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    Name: Park-Chu Young

    Nationality: South Korea

    Age: 26

    Bought From: AS Monaco

    Price: £2.7m

    Arsène Wenger stole Young from the teeth of French Champion Lille on August 30 when Lille were unable to find the South Korean international at his hotel room where they were supposed to sign a contract with the recently-relegated Monaco star.

    The last ditch effort to sign Park seemed like a desperate move. It appeared as if the 26-year-old was needed at the Emirates to back up injury-prone striker Robin van Persie. With deputy Marouane Chamakh out of place at Arsenal, Park seemed like a good fit.

    Instead, he played only six matches, one in the Premier League, totaling one goal, while watching VP tear up the competition as he scored 37 goals in 48 matches.

    Grade: F

6. Carl Jenkinson

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    Name: Carl Jenkinson

    Nationality: Finland

    Age: 20

    Bought From: Charlton Athletic

    Price: £1m

    When the move for Jenkinson was announced, very few expected the Finn to have an impact on Arsenal's season.

    However, due to two Bacary Sagna leg-breaks, Jenkinson saw action in 14 first-team matches. He mixed flashes of potential with costly errors, but for a 20-year-old that is to be expected.

    The move may not have panned out like Arsenal would have liked, but Jenkinson proved in his short time that he can one day be a quality right back. With Sagna expecting to be healthy and a new back-up perhaps in the fold, Jenkinson may not have a first-team future for a few years.

    For the short-term, not a great move, but Carl could very well pay long-term dividends.

    Grade: C

5. Andre Santos

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    Name: Andre Santos

    Nationality: Brazil

    Age: 29

    From: Fenerbahçe

    Price: £6.2m 

    When Gael Clichy departed London last year to land in Manchester with the eventual champions, Arsenal were faced with a semi-crisis at left-back. Kieran Gibbs, who had deputized Clichy, took over the starting reigns, but no one really expected the young Englishman to stay healthy for a whole season.

    He didn't.

    Luckily, Arsene Wenger thought to purchase another left-back, landing Fenerbahçe's Andre Santos on deadline day. He and Gibbs just about split time at left-back, with each providing something different from the back.

    Santos brought a solid attacking game, providing incisive passes and scoring two critical goals for the Gunners.

    He showed some lapses in defense, but that was to be expected from the Brazilian.

    Definitely a smart purchase. Santos can provide attack from the bench if needed, although Gibbs is expected to be in the first 11 next season. 

    Grade: B-

4. Per Mertesacker

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    Name: Per Mertesacker

    Nationality: Germany

    Age: 27

    From: Werder Bremen

    Price:  £8m

    Mertesacker has long been an Arsenal target, and this season, with his contract at Bremen running out, the club could buy the imposing centre-back on the cheap.

    Mertesacker was a bit of a disappointment, finishing with his season-ending injury against Sunderland in February. The German was clumsy at times in defense and was unable to provide the goal-scoring that Arsenal were expecting off of set pieces.

    He wasn't a total bust, as he had a good stretch of play, making some solid tackles when most needed just prior to his injury.

    His future in London may not be very bright, however. Due to his injury, the Koscielny-Vermalen partnership really flourished. With Ajax centre-back on Arsene's radar, Mertesacker may find himself on the bench for long stretches next year, especially if his ankle injury keeps him out for part of season.

    Given the expectations, Per didn't really succeed at the Emirates, but he could provide centre-back depth for years to come.

    Grade: B-

3. Gervinho

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    Name: Gervinho

    Nationality: Ivory Coast

    Age: 24

    From: Lille

    Price:  £10.5m

    Gervinho, who was an early signing of Arsenal's, started off the season well. His speed was instrumental to creating chances for the Gunners, and the Ivorian made some critical last-third passes for Arsenal.

    However, as the season wore on, the ex-Ligue 1 champion began to struggle and lose first-team time. His finishing was never top-class, and, following a long run in the African Cup of Nations, fatigue seemed to catch him up, and his game dropped off.

    He scored four goals, but none after December, when his downfall began.

    The signing which was supposed to change Arsenal's fortunes ended up backfiring, as Gervinho struggled for much of the season. Arsenal must hope that he grows accustomed to the Premier League in his second season. 

    Grade: B-

2. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

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    Name: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

    Nationality: England

    Age: 18

    From Southampton

    Price:  £12m

    Oxlade-Chamberlain was expensive for an 18-year-old from a Championship side, but the Englishman is no ordinary player.

    The "Ox" was only used sparingly by Wenger, making only 23 appearances mostly off the bench. But in his limited time, he showed signs of brilliance.

    Tabbed as the next Theo Walcott, the speedy winger played well throughout the year and was instrumental in the attack during a tough 2-1 loss to Manchester United.

    Arsenal have to try to lock up "OxChambo" on the long-term because what he showed in his time proves that he should be a Gunners star for years to come. 

    This is another brilliant Arsene move for a youngster.

    Grade: B+

1. Mikel Arteta

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    Name: Mikel Arteta

    Nationality: Spain

    Age: 30

    From: Everton

    Price:  £10m

    Given the circumstances he was thrown into, Arteta performed brilliantly. Brought in to replace departed captain and Arsenal legend Cesc Fabregas, Arteta was a key cog in Arsenal's attack, as the Gunners pulled off only one victory without their influential Spanish midfielder.

    His passing was brilliant as he set up marksman Robin van Persie for many of his goals. Arteta too showed a knack for scoring brilliant goals, notably the winner against Manchester City and a sweet free-kick against Aston Villa.

    Even though his age may be a little on the old side, especially for Wenger's liking, it seems as if Arteta was a perfect fit at the Emirates.

    This was the best short-term move made this summer, and it may pay off for years to come if Mikel keeps up his phenomenal play. 

    Grade: A-