When Wenger Got It Wrong: Arsenal's Five Worst Signings Under His Rule

James Walker@@JamesWalker90Analyst IApril 6, 2011

When Wenger Got It Wrong: Arsenal's Five Worst Signings Under His Rule

0 of 5

    LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 23:  Arsene Wenger manager of Arsenal issues instructions during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium on February 23, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty
    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Much has been documented about Wenger's desperate need to sign new players assuming that the arrival of new talent will inject winning ways into European footballs nearly men.

    While most new signings are met with a wave of optimism, some fail to live up to the hype, or indeed justify fans scepticism of their arrivals in the first place.

    This is a list I have compiled of what I believe to be Wenger's 10 worst transactions as an Arsenal manager; I look forward to hearing from you guys.

Jose Antonio Reyes

1 of 5

    BIRMINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 04: Jose Antonio Reyes of Arsenal in action during the Barclays Premiership match between Birmingham City and Arsenal at St Andrews on February 4, 2006 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Cost: £10.5 million

    From: Sevilla

    Year: 2004

    The arrival of Reyes brought about much excitement and anticipation to Highbury; the young Spaniard had impressed during his time at Sevilla and was seen as an ideal strike partner for Thierry Henry. Early signs of promise suggested that Arsenal's then record signing could go on to be a club legend.

    The hopes of fans, and indeed his early potential, went by mostly unfulfilled. The Spaniard found it hard to adapt to life in England and was plagued by homesickness. Among his achievements at Arsenal he became the second player in history to be sent off in the F.A Cup final and scored an own goal against Middlesbrough in his second game for the Gunners.

    Despite signing a six year contract in summer 2005 he left the following year, initially on loan to Real Madrid before transferring officially to Atletico Madrid in 2007 for a fee believed to be 12 million euros.

Pascal Cygan

3 of 5

    LONDON - JULY 19:  Pascal Cygan of Arsenal passes the ball during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Barnet and Arsenal held on July 19, 2003 at the Underhill Stadium, in Barnet, London. The match ended in a 0-0 draw. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)
    Phil Cole/Getty Images

    Cost: £2 million

    From: Lille

    Year: 2002

    A lack of positional knowledge, failure to win balls in the air and the inability to tackle made Cygan a tormenting figure for Arsenal fans to watch. Despite mostly being a fringe player the French centre back somehow managed to collect a Premier League winners medal in the 2003- 04 season. What is all the more surprising is that the Gunners went unbeaten with the calamitous centre back on the pitch.

    Cygan was not aided by the fact he had to fill the void left by recent retirees Tony Adams, Martin Keown and Steve Bould; club legends in their own right. The Frenchman never looked truly comfortable playing in their shadow but managed to stay at Highbury for three seasons.

    Despite his apparent lack in ability Cygan's statistics as a first team Gunner are flattering. In the 2005- 06 season the defender was forced to fill the void left by the injured Ashley Cole and Gael Clichy, deputising as an emergency left back. Arsenal won 12 of 20 games with Cygan in that position, achieving 11 clean sheets.

    He was sold to Villareal in 2006 for £2 million.

Manuel Almunia

4 of 5

    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 12:  Manuel Almunia of Arsenal looks dejected after defeat in the FA Cup sponsored by E.On Sixth Round match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford on March 12, 2011 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason
    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Cost: Undisclosed

    From: Celta Vigo

    Year: 2004

    Almunia's spot in Arsenal's first team is one that baffled fans from the get go; he has never looked like he was ready, or good enough, to bridge the gap left by Lehmann.

    Almunia arrived at Highbury having been employed by Celta Vigo for three years; in that time his Spanish employers never played him. Perhaps Wenger should have got the message. Manuel's only real first team experience previous to his Arsenal days came playing for Spanish minnows Albacete, Eibar and Osasuna's B team. His first real chance in an Arsenal shirt was the 2006 Champions League final where he replaced Robert Pires in the 18th minute following Lehman's red card.

    After season's of pressure it now seems that Almunia's Arsenal days are over; Wenger has finally lost patience with the clumsy Spaniard.

Igor Stepanovs

5 of 5

    11 Aug 2001:  Igor Stepanovs of Arsenal on the ball during the Pre-season friendly match against Barnet played at Underhill in London. \ Mandatory Credit: Ben Radford /Allsport
    Ben Radford/Getty Images

    Cost: £1 million

    From: Skonto Riga

    Year: 2000

    A terrible performance against Manchester United in a 6-1 drubbing is perhaps all Arsenal fans may choose to remember from Stepanovs' brief Arsenal career. The 6ft 4 Latvian centre back arrived at Highbury following a strong  career at Skonto Riga; perennial league champions in Latvia and the core of the Latvian national team.

    Stepanovs played 17 times for Arsenal and in each fixture his incompetence shone through; he simply was not good enough for the Gunners and is viewed by many as Wenger's worst signing of all time.

    He spent three seasons with Arsenal before moving on to K.S.K Beveren. The Latvian has since played for a wealth of clubs, never making more than 50 appearances for any team. It didn't take long for any manager to work out that the lanky Latvian was useless, despite his physical attributes.

Francis Jeffers

6 of 5

    AMSTERDAM, HOLLAND - JULY 30:  Francis Jeffers of Arsenal in action during the Sony Amsterdam Tournament match between Arsenal v River Plate at The Amsterdam Arena on July 30, 2004 in Amsterdam.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    Cost: £8 million

    From: Everton

    Year: 2001

    Francis Jeffers arrived at Arsenal as an exciting young talent and one of the clubs most expensive signings to date.

    At Everton Jeffers looked like a promising young striker; netting a total of 20 goals in 60 appearance. An argument with manager Walter Smith concerning a pay rise saw him sidelined for half a season and he never truly recaptured his form.

    Despite the club winning a wealth of honours during Jeffer's spell there he was not eligible for a single winners medal; some fans may recall him being sent off in the 2003 Community Shield match against Manchester United, 12 minutes after coming on as a sub.

    Injury and the form of Thierry Henry and Sylvain Wiltord prevented Jeffers from becoming the great Arsenal striker his early Everton and England Under 21 career had promised he would be.