Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has repeatedly been praised for his skill in the transfer market, uncovering gems who go on to become established internationals. It’s worth remembering though that no-one gets it right 100 per cent of the time, and even Wenger has unveiled some players in an Arsenal shirt he would rather forget.

Here are his top 10 worst signings:

1. Francis Jeffers

From: Everton
Date: 2001
Fee: £8M

A much-heralded signing, the money men at Toffeeville must have been laughing their shell-suits off when they off-loaded the so-called Fox in the Box. Four goals in the next 22 matches convinced Wenger the player he’d actually bought was more like a Loner in a Coma.

2. Aleksander Hleb

From: Stuttgart
Date: 2005
Fee: €15M

This not so tricky winger blazed a trail at Stuttgart before making a high-profile switch to London. Arsenal’s strikers had a reputation for being afraid to shoot on goal, and Hleb only added to it. But, as no great man ever said, why take an opportunity to score when you can make six sideways passes across the penalty area instead?

3. Jose Antonio Reyes

From: Sevilla
Date: 2004
Fee: €17M

A record signing at the time, his first few games for the Gunners promised much. A memorable goal against Chelsea proved a false dawn, however, and it wasn’t long before he was on his way back to Spain. My wife thought he had a nice smile, however.


4. Pascal Cygan

From: Lille
Date: 2002
Fee: £2M

For Arsenal fans, being subjected to watching this ultra-clumsy centre back, after years of watching Martin Keown, Tony Adams and Steve Bould destroy attackers, was a little like trading in an Aston Martin for a Trabant. Assuming, of course, that the Trabant couldn’t head a ball or make a tackle, and had no pace or positional sense.

5. Richard Wright

From: Ipswich Town
Date: 2001
Fee: £6M (estimated)

240 games for the Tractor Boys gave Wright a good reputation, but at Arsenal it would have taken 100 years to get that many matches under his belt. He was offloaded to Everton eventually; perhaps Wenger was trying to exact some revenge for the Francis Jeffers signing. It didn’t work, though, because he did quite well there.

6. Oleg Luzhny

From: Dynamo Kiev
Date: 1999
Fee: £1.8M

Originally signed as an eventual replacement for Lee Dixon, Luzhny’s lack of pace proved a disadvantage in a wing-back-obsessed Premier League. Though he had a big heart, he also had big legs, big shoulders and big arms. Much-loved by many of the faithful, his willingness to try shouldn’t disguise the fact that he didn’t play very well for Arsenal.

7. Jermaine Pennant

From: Notts County
Date: 1999
Fee: £2M

Throughout his career, Pennant has always relied on his turn of speed; even when he was wearing an electronic tag he could still out-run most defenders. His time at Highbury was littered with long spells on the bench and in the reserves, however, and his career has since taken him to several clubs. Still to fulfil his huge potential, though.

8. Luis Boa Morte

From: Sporting CP
Date: 1996
Fee: £1.75M

Not quite a speedy winger, not quite a super-sub and not quite a good finisher, Boa Morte promised much but ultimately didn’t deliver. One of Wenger’s first signings, his three years wasn’t much to write a note to the milkman about, unfortunately.

9. Christopher Wreh

From: Monaco
Date: 1997
Fee: £300,000

Wenger knew all about Wreh from his days at Monaco, and signed him as a back-up striker for a modest fee. Unfortunately, a back-up was just about his limit. He played quite well in some games, and netted one or two important goals along the way. But being George Weah’s cousin wasn’t enough to cut the mustard. If he’d been Posh Spice’s husband instead, it might have been different.

10. Igors Stepanovs

From: Skonto Riga
Date: 2000
Fee: £1M

A much-travelled centre back, several clubs have come to the conclusion that the 6ft 4in centre back wasn’t actually very good. He built a good reputation at Skonto Riga, but never fulfilled any potential, assuming he had some, of course. A shocking performance in a 6-1 drubbing at Old Trafford didn’t help his case.