Former Arsenal player-turned-manager Mikel Arteta has already experienced some remarkable highs and desperate lows in his extremely short career as a top-tier boss.
From winning the club’s 14th FA Cup just eight months into his reign, to contracting coronavirus in what was believed to be the final straw in the Premier League ’s decision to suspend play – it has been quite the introduction to management.
In a bid to build on the momentum created by last season’s domestic cup success, Arsenal cashed in during the summer. None of the acquisitions toppled the record fee paid in 2019 for Nicolas Pepe, but Arteta will be hoping this year’s additions will take to the Premier League significantly faster.
Thomas Partey (£45million, Atletico Madrid)
In many ways, the manner in which Thomas Partey was signed seemingly represents Arsenal’s approach to all transfers – left quite late and cost a hefty fee.
The deadline day deal sparked celebrations among the Emirates faithful who have been desperately crying out for a midfield enforcer for over a decade.
Partey enjoyed five years at Atletico Madrid under the guidance of Diego Simeone – who was rumoured to be “very angry” with the way Arsenal conducted the deal.
Like all big business deals, the pair spent months feeling each other out before eventually, Arsenal blinked first to activate the Ghanian’s release clause.
Gabriel (£24million, Lille)
Though the young Brazilian’s name doesn’t quite carry the same star power as Partey’s, Arsenal fans have already taken to the 22-year-old’s no nonsense approach to defending.
Relishing the physical battles, Gabriel has earned plenty of plaudits since arriving at the Emirates in September. He even scored on his debut in a 3-0 win over Fulham on the opening day.
Signed from Ligue 1 side Lille, Gabriel has quickly adapted to the pace of the Premier League and been one of the few highlights of a miserable season so far for the Gunners, despite his red card against Southampton in December.
Willian (Free, Chelsea)
Continuing the trend of Chelsea stalwarts making the short trip across London, Arsenal signed Willian on a free transfer in their first deal of the summer window.
Having spent seven years at Stamford Bridge, the 32-year-old opted for a new challenge at one of the Blues most fierce rivals, and penned a three-year deal.
The Brazilian – who is reportedly on £220,000 per week – has struggled to kickstart his Arsenal career thus far.
Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson (£1million, Dijon)
Arsenal made the emotional and controversial decision to wave goodbye to long-term servant between the sticks Emiliano Martinez in the summer, despite him showcasing some scintillating form in the wake of Bernd Leno’s forced absence through injury.
As a result, the Gunners needed someone to deputise for Leno as he occupies the number 1 spot – enter Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson. Purchased for just £1m from Ligue 1 outfit Dijon, Rúnarsson will aim to impress with the limited opportunities he gets.
Cedric Soares (Free, Southampton)
One of the more eyebrow raising signings Arsenal have made in recent memory, the Gunners opted to make Cedric’s winter loan a permanent deal – despite already boasting two right-backs.
The Portuguese international has barrels of Premier League experience having plied his trade with Southampton since 2015.
Much like Rúnarsson, Cedric has been limited to Europa League minutes thus far – even though the full-back notched a superb debut goal against Norwich at the tail end of last season.
Pablo Mari (£8million, Flamengo)
Arriving in similar circumstances to Cedric, Mari arrived in North London in January as part of a loan deal from Brazilian giants Flamengo.
Without establishing himself in the first team, Arsenal decided to make his deal permanent in the summer.
A former Manchester City man, Mari has only made three appearances for the Gunners since his arrival 11 months ago, and has been out injured since June.
Who do you think has been Arsenal’s best transfer in recent years? Let us know in the comments below.
Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa, £18million)
Arsenal have had to endure some fairly emotional goodbyes from their talented crop in recent years, but few will have been as difficult as the departure of goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.
The Argentine joined the club as a youth player in 2010, and was sent on loan to five different sides before eventually staking his claim for the number 1 spot during the 2019/2020 ‘Project Restart’ following an injury to usual ‘keeper Bernd Leno.
Despite producing a string of stellar performances, Arteta opted to keep Leno as his number 1 – but Martinez’s form meant he had plenty of suitors for regular first team football.
He eventually joined Aston Villa in a deal worth up to £20 million, and has already established himself as a fan favourite at Villa Park.
Matteo Guendouzi (Hertha Berlin, Loan)
Few would have predicted Guendouzi would be ousted to the Bundesliga on loan just a year after a man of the match cameo in the north London derby.
But after failing to curb some behavioural issues, boss Mikel Arteta has banished the young Frenchmen to Hertha Berlin for the remainder of the 2020/21 season.
Lucas Torreira (Atletico Madrid, Loan)
A similar tale to Guendouzi in many ways, a talented midfielder who at once seemed to have the Emirates in the palm of his hand, his form quickly deteriorated.
Not aided by former boss Unai Emery’s persistent need to play him out of position, Torreira is enjoying a new lease of life under Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid in a deal that was separate to the one that saw Thomas Partey move the other way.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Roma, Free)
The nine-time Armenian footballer of the year joined Arsenal as part of a swap deal that saw Alexis Sanchez go the other way to Manchester United.
Despite notching a hat-trick of assists on his home debut, Mkhitaryan never quite settled at the Emirates, struggling to win over the Arsenal faithful with his inconsistent form. In two and a half seasons with the club, he scored just nine times.
Mkhitaryan spent a large portion of the 2019/20 season on loan with Roma, before eventually making that deal permanent come the end of the campaign, calling time on a dismal period at Arsenal.
In November 2020 he scored his first career hat-trick, netting three for Roma against Genoa.