Arsenal transfer regrets include Bayern Munich superstar Serge Gnabry, Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey as their Premier League woes continue December 15, 2020 – Posted in: Soccer
Arsenal’s tumultuous 2020/21 season continued on Sunday night as they were beaten 1-0 by fellow Premier League strugglers Burnley.
The result now leaves them with just 13 points from 12 games, while they sit 15th in the table, three positions and five points above the relegation zone.
The pressure continues to build on manager Mikel Arteta and he can certainly take some part of the blame here.
In reality, though, the Gunners’ decline, despite their 2020 FA Cup win, has been happening for some time.
From title challengers, Champions League contenders, and three FA Cup triumphs in four years during the 2010s, they now look well off the pace of their Premier League rivals.
Mistakes have been made since those heady days with several big names and starlets allowed to leave the club.
Not just by Arteta, or by Unai Emery, but even by legendary boss Arsene Wenger.
These transfers have left Arsenal struggling to pick up the slack with replacements inadequate or just not forthcoming in the correct areas.
Once one of the most creative teams in the land, they now lack a 10 who can unlock a defence and lay on the ball for their misfiring forwards.
So which transfers are the ones the Gunners are regretting right now? talkSPORT.com takes a look.
Ismael Bennacer (AC Milan)
Big things were expected from Bennacer when he joined the Gunners from Ligue 2 side AC Arles-Avignon in 2015.
However, the midfielder was unable to make the breakthrough at the Emirates – making just one first-team appearance – and subsequently joined Empoli on a permanent deal two years later.
The Gunners had a buy-back clause, meaning they had the right to match any accepted bid for the midfielder to re-sign him but they passed up on that opportunity with Serie A giants AC Milan clinching a £14.5million deal for the Algeria international in 2019.
The 23-year-old signed a five-year deal at the San Siro, with Arsenal reportedly recouping 30 per cent of that fee through a sell-on clause.
Now he’s one of Milan’s key men as they sit top of the table in Italy and worth significantly more what they paid him.
Bennacer has since commented on how tough it was being brought on as a winger in his only appearance for the Gunners, although overall he doesn’t have regrets about his time at the club.
“In September, finally, I played my first game. In the League Cup, against Sheffield Wednesday,” he said.
“Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got injured, Theo Walcott was brought on in his place and after two minutes he gets injured too, so Wenger throws me on.
“The problem is that he puts me wide left in the front three, it’s a role I’ve never played before.
“I felt a crazy pressure on me. I lost a few balls, but I recovered a few.
“After that I didn’t play anymore, but I have no regrets. I trained with important players like Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla.”
Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich)
Once deemed not good enough for West Bromwich Albion by Tony Pulis, his career has well and truly taken off.
After impressing Werder Bremen and Hoffenheim, Gnabry has grabbed his big break with both hands at Bayern – and has certainly proved many people wrong in the process.
In the 2018/19 season, Gnabry’s first with the Bavarian giants, he was named their player of the season in a title-winning campaign.
The 24-year-old followed that up with productive 2019/20, scoring 19 goals and registering 13 assists in 41 appearances for Bayern as the German giants clinched an eighth successive Bundesliga title.
And last season he took on Franck Ribery’s famous No.7 shirt and helped the club to a Bundesliga title and Champions League glory.
It all looked so promising for Gnabry early on in his Emirates career, as he was handed his Premier League debut as a teenager by none other than Arsene Wenger.
However, after suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury the winger was unable to force his way back into Wenger’s plans on his return.
A miserable loan at the Hawthorns followed, where then Baggies boss Pulis claimed he ‘was not at the required standard’ to compete.
“Serge has come here to play games but he just hasn’t been for me, at the moment, at that level to play the games,” he famously said.
What they would give to have him at the Emirates now.
Aaron Ramsey (Juventus)
Right now, the Gunners are lacking creativity in midfield and one man who might have been able to provide some in the absence of the exiled Mesut Ozil is Ramsey.
In his best season, he grabbed ten league goals and eight assists, and would be worth his weight in gold right now, especially with Alexandre Lacazette playing as a 10.
What makes Ramsey’s exit even worse is the fact he left for the Italian giants on a free transfer.
Failing to tie the player down to a long contract and letting him run it down and leave for such an attractive offer in Turin, will go down as one of the worst mistakes by a Premier League club.
Sure, Arsenal couldn’t have competed with the deal the Welshman left for, reportedly £400,000 per week, but had they had everything tied up a season or two earlier it wouldn’t have mattered anyway.
Now, with Ozil out, Santi Cazorla gone – another who left too early, and the likes of Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all now consigned to the club’s history books, Arsenal are shorn of creativity in central midfield.
Not only that, they lost players who combined well with each other significantly altering the team’s dynamic.
Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa)
The Argentine shot-stopper had long languished behind the scenes at Arsenal during his eight years at the club.
He spent six spells out on loan away from the Emirates as he looked to build his career.
In June 2020, his big chance came when Bernd Leno was injured in a Premier League game with Brighton.
From the very first moment he stepped on the pitch, Martinez was inspired and helped the Gunners, against all odds, beat Man City and Chelsea on the way to winning the FA Cup, while also helping them beat champions Liverpool twice in two months.
We should caveat this and say Leno is no slouch between the sticks, but as illustrated by his display against Wolves at the weekend, you can’t help but believe Martinez might have been the better option to keep given his outrageously good form.
Olivier Giroud (Chelsea)
In the Frenchman’s five full seasons at the Emirates, he never once scored fewer than 10 league goals, while his total season-long tally was never lower than 16 in all competitions.
Okay, he never put up elite goalscoring numbers but, bar a few mini-droughts, he was a vital player for the Gunners, regularly coming up with big goals and the occasional huge assist – like in the 2017 FA Cup final.
There is a reason he’s still a major part of the French international set up, while in recent weeks Giroud has helped current side Chelsea in Europe, and the Premier League.
He won the Europa League in 2019 with the Blues, when they beat the Gunners in the final, and you can’t help but feel that right now, while Arteta’s men lump the ball into the box, he could still perform a huge role were he still at the Emirates.