Arsene Wenger’s 9 most bizarre Arsenal signings – and what became of them

Park Chu-young

When you manage a club for over 20 years, they can’t all be perfect picks. But did the Frenchman really need to sign a player with a broken back?

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1. Park Chu-young

When Arsene Wenger was scrabbling to rebuild his squad having lost Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas in the summer of 2011, he made a late move to snatch South Korean Park Chu-young from the clutches of Lille. The striker was reportedly midway through a medical with the French club when he suddenly left to board a flight to London.

Wenger has made a habit of such dramatic late swoops — he convinced Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit to ditch Ajax and Tottenham respectively in similar circumstances. Yet Park didn't come close to matching the exploits of that dynamic duo in north London.

For starters, he didn't make his Premier League debut until January 2012 (against Manchester United of all sides). It would prove to be his only league appearance in his three years with the club. He was released in June 2014, and after a brief spell in Saudi Arabia has now returned to Korea with FC Seoul.

2. Mikael Silvestre

Like Park, the decision to sign Mikael Silvestre was seemingly made at the last possible moment. The defender was on the verge of leaving Manchester United for neighbours City, but Wenger stepped in to bring him to Arsenal in 2008.

The Silvestre who Arsenal recruited was a far cry from the one who won five Premier League titles with Man United

Perhaps the Gunners should have smelled a rat when Sir Alex Ferguson consented to sell a player to a supposed title rival – the Silvestre who Arsenal recruited was a far cry from the one that won five Premier League titles with United.

After almost a decade at Old Trafford, he was an esteemed figure at United. However, he was a liability at Arsenal. It quickly became clear he was no longer up to it, and by the end of his two years with the Gunners was on the fringes of the first-team squad.

Stints at Werder Bremen, Portland Timbers and Indian Super League side Chennaiyin followed before retirement in 2014. Silvestre has continued working in football since: he had a two-year spell as director of football at Ligue 1 Rennes, but left the post in December 2016.

3. Andre Santos

Another signing during Wenger’s infamous 2011 ‘trolley dash’, Santos arrived with considerable pedigree. He had amassed 22 caps for Brazil, and upon his arrival Wenger described him as a “quality player, with the ability to both defend well and get forward”.

It quickly became clear, however, that Santos was considerably more comfortable on the front foot; the fact he wore the No.11 shirt was appropriate for a player who always looked more like a winger than a full-back.

His defensive deficiencies were a worry, but Santos’s relationship with the Arsenal fans really fell apart when he was captured swapping shirts and embracing despised defector Robin van Persie in November 2012. By February 2013, he'd returned to Brazil.

Things were little better in his homeland: during a spell with Flamengo, he was hospitalised after being assaulted by a fan for his poor performances. Undeterred, Santos has continued his playing career, and is currently in Turkey playing for Boluspor.