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Ranked! Arsenal's 10 worst signings of the Premier League era

Sebastien Squillaci

From misfiring strikers to hapless centre-backs: Jon Spurling on the transfers that Arsenal fans would really rather forget

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10. John Jensen

If Arsenal fans needed evidence of where the club was headed as the Premier League era dawned in the summer of 1992, it came with the signing of the curly-haired defensive midfielder who’d just won the European Championship with Denmark. His thunderous goal in the final against Germany was hardly a portent of things to come at Highbury.

A solitary strike – a magnificent curled effort against QPR on New Year’s Eve 1994 – spawned a T-shirt with the slogan: ‘I was there when Jensen scored’. His unspectacular (although solid) displays contrasted poorly with those of fans’ favourite and Highbury cult hero David Rocastle, who departed to Leeds shortly before Jensen arrived at Highbury. Perhaps JJ was doomed to fail from the start.

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9. Jose Antonio Reyes

After joining Arsenal for a whopping £10.5m from Sevilla in January 2004, the 20-year-old Spaniard made an instant impact at Highbury, dispatching two crackers against Chelsea as Arsenal defeated their newly moneyed rivals in a February FA Cup clash.

Yet in October 2004, on the day that the Gunners lost their 49-match unbeaten record, Manchester United (and Gary Neville in particular) physically destroyed him. From that point onwards, Reyes wilted in the red and white, and in February 2005 was caught in a radio sting admitting that he longed to move back to Spain. In 2006 he got his way, joining Real Madrid on loan with his early promise at Highbury unfulfilled.

8. Gervinho

Despite promises of big-name signings in the 2011 close season, Arsenal fans were underwhelmed with the arrival of the £10.5m Lille forward. After early encouragement, the Ivory Coast forward dawdled far too often when he broke into the opposition box, his shooting was often wayward, and he frequently lost possession.

Following a bright start to the 2012/13 campaign, Gervinho quickly found himself at the rough end of the Emirates crowd’s frustration. He drifted out of the first-team picture, then departed to Roma after a lacklustre two-year spell in north London.

7. Park Chu-young

Park Chu-young

If the summer 2011 transfer window hadn't already been depressing enough for Arsenal fans – Cesc Fabregas, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri became the latest three first-teamers to jump ship – then their team's late-window arrivals were enough to tip Gunners over the edge. And while Per Mertesacker and Mikel Arteta were both reasonable additions, Andre Santos and South Korean striker Park Chu-young were anything but. 

Park, in particular, was a head-scratcher. He was 26 and hardly bragged a prolific record with Monaco in Ligue 1, plus he wasn't even a national team regular. Sure enough, such an underwhelming reputation was backed up at the Emirates: seven appearances in all, only one Premier League appearance – against Manchester United – and one goal in the League Cup against Bolton to show for it. With such low expectations, you couldn't even call him a disappointment.  

6. Marouane Chamakh

In his early months during the 2010/11 season at Arsenal, the Moroccan free signing from Bordeaux looked a decent striker, plundering goals with regularity in both the Premier League and Champions League. Yet by the end of the calendar year, Chamakh admitted he’d “completely lost my edge”. Despite his snood, he began to labour dreadfully, and appeared only sporadically for the Gunners – mainly as a substitute.

Chamakh played a memorable cameo role in October 2012, netting a brace as a substitute in Arsenal’s incredible 7-5 League Cup victory against Reading. Yet the striker was held up by unforgiving Arsenal supporters as evidence of how the club was trying – and failing – to win things on the cheap.