Arsenal: Saliba 3rd in ranking of every signing made by Arteta and Emery since Wenger left

Jason Soutar
Arsenal players Nicolas Pepe, William Saliba and Aaron Ramsdale.
Arsenal players Nicolas Pepe, William Saliba and Aaron Ramsdale.

Arsenal are back in the Champions League after Mikel Arteta’s #process was trusted with plenty of patience and some heavy spending in the transfer market.

We’ve looked at Everton and Manchester United, so here is a ranking of every Arsenal buy since Arsene Wenger left in 2018. Spoiler alert: the Gunners have done a lot better than those two. Fees are from Transfermarkt and the last bracket is where they placed when all 27 players were initially ranked in May 2022.


38) Willian (free) (27)
Signed on astronomical wages after a spell with London rivals Chelsea, Willian scored once in 37 appearances for Arsenal, costing the club a fortune in wages before generously agreeing to terminate his contract last August.

Fair doos to him for getting his career back on track at Fulham.


37) Denis Suarez (£2.2m loan fee) (26)
This was one of the most pointless loan signings in Premier League history. Suarez played six times for Arsenal and did nothing.


36) Alex Runarsson (£1.8m) (25)
Runarsson is probably better with his feet than with his hands which, for a goalkeeper, is not ideal.


35) Stephan Lichtsteiner (free) (24)
Unai Emery turned to the experienced Lichtsteiner when looking for someone to provide cover for Hector Bellerin. He was good for Juventus but was less than impressive in north London. The Swiss right-back spent one season at the Emirates, joining Augsburg before retiring a year later.


34) Nicolas Pepe (£72m) (23)
Pepe scored 27 goals and 21 assists in 112 matches for the Gunners and has often been criticised for his performances. His price tag has held him back at times; £72m is a lot of money which will always bring more scrutiny, unfortunately for the Ivorian.

He has finally found a new club, joining Trabzonspor on a one-year deal.


33) Pablo Mari (£5.4m + £7.2m loan fee) (22)
Mari was only signed because he is left-footed. Nobody can convince me otherwise. That loan fee was absolutely ridiculous.


32) Sokratis (£14.4m) (21)
The Greek defender was signed early on by Emery as the Spaniard looked to create a team that could play out from the back like prime Barcelona. It didn’t quite work out that way. Sokratis was a terrific professional during his time at Arsenal but was past his best by the time he made the move to England.


31) Mathew Ryan (loan) (20)
A decent back-up goalkeeper, Ryan spent the second half of 2020/21 at the Emirates. He made three appearances and joined Real Sociedad after his time in north London.


30) Lucas Torreira (£25.8m) (16)
Torreira hit the ground running after joining the Gunners in 2018. Off the back of a great World Cup campaign with Uruguay, the midfielder instantly became a fan favourite at the Emirates, making 50 appearances in his debut season as Arsenal reached the Europa League final.

But Arteta did not fancy Torriera and the player decided he didn’t want to play in England anymore. He was loaned out to Atletico Madrid in 20/21 and Fiorentina in 21/22 before signing for Galatasaray for a measly £5.2m last August.


29) Sambi Lokonga (£15.75m) (10)
A full Belgium international, 23-year-old Lokonga joined in the summer of 2021 with high hopes. He has struggled to adapt to life in the Premier League but has been handed the chance to prove his worth during a season-long loan spell with Luton Town.


28) Matt Turner (£5.7m) (18)
Turner was Aaron Ramsdale’s back-up for one year before joining Nottingham Forest, where expects to be top dawg. Forest’s signing of Odysseas Vlachodimos is less than ideal for the American, though.


27) Dani Ceballos (loan) (17)
There were high hopes after Arsenal signed a player who ran the show as Spain came out victorious at the 2019 Under-21 European Championships. But Ceballos failed to live up to the hype with Gunners fans happy to see the back of him after his two-year loan.


26) Nuno Tavares (£7m) (14)
Hauled off after 30 minutes against then-Championship side Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup. Taken off at half-time against Crystal Palace. Being dropped as central midfielder Granit Xhaka filled in at left-back. Tavares had a rough debut season at Arsenal.

After a decent season on loan at Marseille, Tavares joined Turner at Nottingham Forest, where he is expected to join permanently for around £12m next summer.


25) Auston Trusty (£1.6m) (19)
Trusty was signed for next to nothing and did pretty well on loan at Birmingham City last term. Arsenal made a tidy £3.3m profit when he was sold to Sheffield United in the summer.


24) Kai Havertz (£64.8m) (NE)
Quite what Mikel Arteta has seen from Kai Havertz at Chelsea to justify spending that kind of money on him is beyond nearly everyone.

On the flip side, Arteta has built the trust of the Arsenal fan base and has earned the right to take a chance or two in the transfer market. He has taken a big one on Havertz, whose every touch in red and white is going to be analysed and critiqued. The pressure is on both the player and manager here.


23) Cedric Soares (free) (15)
Signed on loan and then offered a contract before kicking a ball, Cedric has failed to endear himself to the club’s fans with numerous mediocre performances. His ranking here is respectable, however, after performing well in Takehiro Tomiyasu’s frequent absence in 21/22.


22) Bernd Leno (£22.5m) (13)
Leno became the club’s No. 1 goalkeeper with Petr Cech retiring at the end of 18/19. Signed with a solid reputation of being good on the ball, the German shot-stopper was suspect when asked to play out. He has probably never been a top-five keeper in the Premier League but has done well at Fulham, like Willian, after joining for pennies last summer.


21) Marquinhos (£2.6m) (14)
The teenage Brazilian was signed for next to nothing after being in talks with Wolves. It is hard to see a path into the Arsenal first-team, truth be told.


20) Matteo Guendouzi (£7.2m) (11)
This signing had the potential to rank high in a list of Arsene Wenger signings, let alone post-Wenger signings. But Arteta didn’t want anything to do with Guendouzi, who is now starring in Marseille’s midfield and is a full France international. £7.2m was a bargain and Marseille also got a bargain when they spent £9.9m to make his loan permanent at the end of 21/22.

Guendouzi would likely be in the top ten on this list if he was still at the club, but letting him leave for f**k all when he would be a great squad player for Arsenal if he hadn’t grabbed Neal Maupay by the throat is a tough pill to swallow.


19) David Raya (£3m loan fee) (NE)
Raya could come in and push Aaron Ramsdale to another level and find it impossible to get minutes. Or he could become Arteta’s new No. 1. Either way, it’s a win/win for Arsenal but a risky move for the Spaniard, who clearly believes he is good enough to leapfrog Ramsdale in the pecking order.


18) Jakub Kiwior (£22.3m) (21)
Kiwior could not get game time over Rob Holding after William Saliba picked up an injury in March, which made fans think he might be rubbish. He isn’t, though. If he started instead of Holding against Liverpool, West Ham, Southampton and Manchester City, would Arsenal be Premier League champions?


17) Fabio Vieira (£30.4m) (18)
The Portuguese playmaker signed for the Gunners out of the blue and has struggled for game time. There is obviously potential there, and Vieira is beginning to show it. He has made some very important cameos off the bench already this season and is putting even more pressure on Havertz to perform.


16) David Luiz (£7.8m) (12)
Luiz divided opinion during his Arsenal career. From red cards against Manchester City and Wolves to masterclasses in the 2020 FA Cup semi-final and final to help his side win the trophy, nobody went from a world beater to completely shocking overnight quite like the Brazilian.

Arsenal defender David Luiz defending against Raheem Sterling


15) Jorginho (£10m) (17)
Arsenal signed Jorginho instead of Moises Caicedo in January, which made him public enemy number one when he initially joined. The Italian has done well to win fans over in his early days as a Gunner.


14) Takehiro Tomiyasu (£16.7m) (6)
“Tomiyasu was offered to most clubs in the Premier League. He’s a good player but the problem is he’s not really a right-back, nor is he a central defender. I’m not sure how he will get on at Arsenal.”

Egg on your face, Kaveh Solhekol. Tomiyasu is solid, versatile and very two-footed. His injury proneness is a slight worry, but he has been one hell of a signing.

Tomiyasu being 14th is harsh on him, but it shows how good Arsenal’s business has been over the last two years.


13) Kieran Tierney (£24.3m) (2)
The Scottish left-back’s injury record lets him down, really. Tierney missed 23 games in his debut season, 11 in 20/21 and 13 in 21/22.

After being unable to land a move to another Premier League club, Tierney recently joined Real Sociedad on loan for the season.


12) Jurrien Timber (£34.6m) (NE)
Versatile, proven in Europe and internationally, Timber did not cost an extraordinary fee and vastly improves Arsenal’s defensive depth. An ACL injury on his competitive debut was a huge blow.


11) Leandro Trossard (£21.4m) (13)
Trossard is a top player who enjoyed a brilliant 2022 with Brighton, who are very good at getting huge transfer fees for their players. Arsenal saw an opportunity with the Belgian after missing out on Mykhaylo Mudryk, bringing him in for a very respectable fee in January 2023.


10) Thomas Partey (£45m) (8)
Partey has been incredible for Arsenal when fit, which is not often enough.


9) Oleksandr Zinchenko (£30.4m) (9)
Zinchenko has brought his leadership skills from Manchester City to Arsenal and has adapted very nicely into Arteta’s system. The Ukrainian is the perfect player for the Spanish manager, as he effortlessly slots in as another central midfielder, which allowed Granit Xhaka to thrive further up the pitch.


8) Benjamin White (£52m) (7)
The transfer fee raised many eyebrows, with many laughing at Arsenal for paying more for White than Manchester United did for Raphael Varane.

But do Arsenal need to upgrade on White?


7) Aaron Ramsdale (£25m) (5)
Ramsdale has added a new dimension to the Arsenal team thanks to his ability to play out from the back.

Arteta deciding to buy him shocked the club’s fanbase and Ramsdale was written off before signing on the dotted line. It’s fair to say he has shut up his critics while picking up some new haters from rival fans for his eccentricity, passion and ‘camera saves’. It really is a miserable world out there.


6) Gabriel Jesus (£45.5m) (3)
One of two players to come into the Arsenal team last summer and transform them into title contenders, Jesus, like Zinchenko, has brought City’s winning mentality to the Emirates and made them a serious team once again.

He may miss a big chance every game, but Jesus’ overall play cannot be understated. What a terrific footballer.


5) Gabriel Magalhaes (£23.4m) (3)
Signed for more than his left foot, Gabriel is an excellent player and formed a terrific partnership with Benjamin White in 21/22 before doing so once with William Saliba last season. £23m is a bloody bargain in this day and age, as well.


4) Declan Rice (£101m) (NE)
It is a bit bold to put someone yet to kick a competitive ball for Arsenal so high, but come on, folks, we all know what Rice is capable of.

The fee is astronomical and it is important the 24-year-old does not let that negatively affect his performances. We doubt it will.

Rice 3rd, Liverpool pair in top 5: Ranking the best Premier League signings of the summer


3) William Saliba (£27m) (9)
In 2022, Saliba finally returned to Arsenal to become a first-team regular last summer after three loan spells. He was magnificent in Arteta’s back four and his absence was very notable in the title run-in.

Arguably a top-five central defender in the Premier League at the age of 22, Arsenal have nailed it by tying the Frenchman down to a long-term contract.


2) Martin Odegaard (£31.5m + £1.8m loan fee) (4)
Named club captain following the exit of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Odegaard has become the heartbeat of the Arsenal team at such a young age.

£31.5m for someone of Odegaard’s ability and personality? What a coup from Arteta and Edu.


1) Gabriel Martinelli (£6.4m) (1)
The best Arsenal signing post-Wenger for many reasons. £6.4m for Martinelli’s was a masterstroke from the club’s scouts.

Before moving to north London, the Brazilian had a trial with Manchester United, who opted not to sign him because they don’t tend to make good decisions in that department.

With his injury problems behind him after some terrific management from Arteta – despite calls from fans for him to play Martinelli more often – the winger will continue to progress with his transfer value around twenty times what the Gunners paid to sign him from Ituano.

William Saliba, Fabio Vieira and Gabriel Martinelli celebrate a goal.