August 2011. Arsenal had just lost 8-2 to Manchester United. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain making his debut. It was a disastrous day. One of the most embarrassing defeats in recent memory – and there has been a few.
The defeat led Arsenal to carry out a supermarket sweep on the final days of the transfer window.
Having only signed youngsters Carl Jenkinson, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joel Campbell (who would not get a work permit), alongside the African-Messi Gervinho, Arsenal were horribly short of players. What resulted from that day was a deadline day dash to boost the squad. 5 players in, 1 of which on loan.
But what happened to those 5 players?
Park Chu-Young – Monaco – £1.8m
The signing of South Korean Park Chu-Young will always be a mystery. He was on his way to a medical to sign for Lille when Arsene Wenger got a sniff that he is available. Rather than get on a train to his medical, he got the Eurostar to London. Lille declared him missing, Arsenal were hiding him in a hotel.
He made his league debut for Arsenal as a substitute, 82 minutes into a 2–1 home defeat by Manchester United, on 22 January 2012, 6 months after he signed. And he was never seen in a Premier League game again,.
Talk about him having to leave after 3 years to do national service was as exciting as it got.
He was then loaned to Celta Vigo and Watford, before making a permanent move to Al-Shabab in Saudi Arabia. After a year there, he returned to his native South Korea. Not to do military service, but to play for FC Seoul.
A regular for his country before he joined Arsenal, the transfer not only killed his international career, but his footballing career.
Andre Santos – Fenerbache – £6.2m
With Gaël Clichy, Arsenal expected 21 year old Keiran Gibbs to step up as the next great Arsenal left back, with Armand Traore providing cover. Gibbs started the 2011/12 season injured, meaning that Traore and Carl Jenkinson played left back. After the 8-2 defeat, in which Traore started and Jenkinson got sent off, Arsenal targeted a senior left back.
In came Brazilian international Andre Santos. A man known for his attacking exploits.
He ended up performing better in the Arsenal Fish Bar than on the pitch for Arsenal. Always carrying a bit too much timber, he was awful.
He was dumped back to Brazil, then went to India, Switzerland and Turkey. He is currently captain of Boluspor.
Per Mertesacker – Werder Breman – £8m
The Big F’ing German bought leadership and stability to the club after the 8-2 defeat. He soon found himself as first choice centre back at the club, playing alongside either Thomas Vermaelen or Laurent Koscielny – depending on who was fit.
He went on to become an important part of Arsenal defence, leading the side to 3 FA Cup victories, winning the World Cup with Germany, and winning his 100th international cap.
Still at the club, he is set to retire at the end of this season and take up an academy coaching role.
Mikel Arteta – Everton – £10m
There have been very few deadline day dramas like Mikel Arteta’s transfer to Arsenal.
Throughout deadline day, the transfer was on, then off, then on, then done, then off, and then suddenly, just before the window closed, it was confirmed, Mikel Arteta was an Arsenal player.
Most agreed that we had signed him 3 years earlier – the year we tried and failed to sign Xabi Alonso.
Rather than joining to partner Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri in the midfield, he was their replacement.
His first 3 years at Arsenal were excellent. But then he lost his legs.
The final two years at Arsenal were ruined through injury – has anyone every recovered from losing their legs?
I will always remember when he captained the club for most of 2014, including the FA Cup Final, only for Thomas Vermaelen to do a John Terry and lift the FA Cup despite not playing. Luckily he got to lift it as captain the year after.
He scored on his last game (cruelly changed to an own goal by the FA) and retired. Instead of joining Arsenal’s coaching staff, he took himself to Manchester City, where he is still part of Pep Guardiola’s coaching set up.