Hits or Misses? What is your verdict on Arsenal’s 9 previous Brazilian signings?

Which Brazilians Were A Hit Or Miss For Arsenal? By Dan Smith

So, Willian will become the 10th Brazilian to play for Arsenal in the Premiership and if you believe the rumours that could soon be 11 if Gabriel Magalhaes chooses us ahead of Napoli.

While Brazil is still far away from France in terms of a nation heavily the most represented outside of Britain in terms of talent to play for the Gunners, a trend is developing.

Like when Arsene Wenger first arrived in North London, he used his knowledge of the French Market to improve the club, Edu seems to be using his South American contacts and relationship to entice his fellow countrymen.

If Gabriel were to sign, that would be 4 Brazilians arriving in the last 12 months compared to the previous 6 in our entire history.

They will have to do a lot more to be compared to our famous ‘French Connection’ but let’s have a quick look at the Brazilians to have played in the League for Arsenal and decide if they have been a hit or miss.

Sylvinho – 1999- 2001

He replaced our legend Nigel Winterburn. He set the template of what Arsene Wenger wanted from his full back, being good at going forward as much as being able to defend. Also scored memorable goals against Sheffield Wednesday, Chelsea and Sparta Prague.

A bad knee injury effectively ended his Gunners career. During his time on the side-lines a certain Ashley Cole established himself in the first team, meaning Mr Wenger had no reason to fight for the Brazilian when he hinted he might leave to play more.

Despite failing to add to his 6 caps, the motivation to leave proved successful. In Spain he proved his fitness, helping Celta Vigo qualify for the Champions League for the first time ever and earning himself a move to Barcelona. This coincided with the best period in our history so it’s not like we regretted selling him, yet the irony is he was on the opposition bench for our only European Cup Final but would start in the Final three years later.

After retirement he managed Lyon, but only lasted 11 games. Before he took that job he was offered the opportunity to lead his national team at the Tokyo Olympics. HIT

Edu 2001-2005
Took a good 9 months to settle into English Football, but once he did become a reliable squad player and the first Brazilian to win the Premiership.

Especially in our Invincible season, injuries to Viera and Gilberto meant Edu was trusted to play in several crucial games where he delivered. He was offered a contract extension but felt disappointed the club had waited so long to start negotiations. He saw this as confirmation that he was undervalued and not appreciated. Which is ironic considering his current job.

Arsenal were proven correct in allowing him to leave on a free, because days after signing with Valencia he suffered an injury which he never really recovered from.

He returned to his boyhood club Corinthians as director of football and also worked with his National Team and Iran. This body of work saw him get the same role at the Emirates where he is now one of our clubs most powerful figures. HIT

Gilberto 2002-2008
Impressed many when Brazil won the World Cup in 2002, also winning two Confederation Cups and Copa America with his country. While the likes of Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho provided the dazzle, Gilberto was the physical presence, who would win back the ball and pass it onto his more flair teammates.

That’s the role he would have at Arsenal as he formed a midfield partnership with Vieira to form the one the Frenchman had with Petit in 1997.

As we broke up the Invincible’s too soon, Silva stepped up as a leader, the experience in an otherwise young dressing room. He then went on to win further trophies in Greece and back in his homeland. HIT

Baptista 2006-2007 (loan)
It was always clear Baptista was reluctant to leave Real Madrid and his swap with Reyes was only ever going to be a loan. Nicknamed ‘the Beast’ due to his build he scored 10 goals for us, although the majority of them were in the Cups. 4 at Anfield and at White Hart Lane in the League Cup.

In North London though (as well as before and after in Madrid) he struggled to be the player who had earnt such a reputation at Sevilla. MISS

Denilson 2006-2013
Moved to England at the age of 18 having only played 12 senior games in Brazil. This was an era where Arsene Wenger was giving many opportunities to young talent many fans hadn’t even heard of. This Arsenal team had talent but would often mentally fail at the final hurdle due to a lack of experience.

Injuries, the emergence of Jack Wilshire and a toxic atmosphere at the Emirates saw Denilson struggle, often playing it safe by passing the ball side to side. He has since given more of an insight into why he struggled.

Not knowing the language and away from his family, Denilson has explained how lonely he was in his personal life, training often being his only human interaction during the day.

That explains why at 25 he returned to Brazil and has played there ever since (except a brief spell in Abu Dhabi), not wanting to return to Europe till this year to play in Malta. MISS

Andre Santos 2011-13
It took an 8-2 humiliation at Old Trafford to put pressure on our board to spend the money they had just got from selling Clichy, Nasri and Fabregas. To fill in at left back we signed Santos from Fenerbahce. Like most Brazilian full backs, he was good going forward but simply couldn’t defend.

Gooners had already realised he wasn’t good enough, but he lost any respect he had left with the fan base when he was seen swapping shirts with our ex captain Van Persie at HALF TIME against Man United!!! a period in which he was terrible. He was loaned out two months after this game. MISS

Gabriel Paulista 2015-2017
Before the Lockdown, Luis Enrique was considering calling the Brazilian up for Spain after gaining his Spanish citizenship. He always gave 100 percent but was very much a player who needed to feel confident to be at his best. In many ways he summed up the team he played for in this period. When things were going wrong we lacked the leadership skills to respond.

Arsene switching to a three at the back did improve his form with arguably his best display in the FA Cup Semi Final win over Man City. An injury meant he would miss the Final but also the opportunity to carry on his momentum from a new formation.

I the end he was sold with Valencia willing to pay 9 million for him not necessarily because he was any worse than the centre backs we had at the time. MISS

Martinelli- 2019- Present
We were told he was a signing with the future in mind, with even suggestions he would start with our under 23 squad. So, it’s fair to say he is developing quicker than many assumed, using the cups to force his way into first teams plans.

What has impressed me most is his lack of fear. In the dark days of November and December last year, he was one of the few players who was leading by example despite his age, demanding the ball and not afraid to take on his man.

Injury has now slowed down his momentum, a problem that might keep him out for the rest of the year.
Like any youngster, the next challenge will be to handle everything that comes from being a teenager doing so well. The expectation and pressure will increase, while you can see him being offered many lucrative sponsorship and marketing opportunities. It’s crucial he has the correct network around him at this time. HIT (So Far)

David Luiz -2019
This time last year everyone knew that Arsenal needed to strengthen their centre back positions, but somehow managed to make their defence weaker by selling our captain and replacing him with David Luiz.
Luiz went on to concede more red cards and penalties in one year then he did in his 7 years at Stamford Bridge.

His displays in the FA Cup summed up his whole career. The Semi Final and Final easily being his best performances for us, contradicting what we had seen most of the campaign. He talks well and is popular in the dressing room, but those are not reasons to reward him with a new contract. MISS (So Far)

Do you agree with who was or has been a hit or miss?

Put your opinions below…

Be Kind In The Comments

Dan Smith


  1. Gilbert Silva is one Brazilian that did extremely well during his time at the club.

    Paulista had some decent games but later became bad defending. His temper didn’t help either.

    Edu was a good player during the invisible era. Not a regular starter but always put up a show when he starts or comes from the bench.

    Andre Santos good going forward, scored some sweet goals but a poor defender. Very poor in defending I must say.

    Denilson started his career decently. He paired with fabregas in some games and I thought we have a pair here but it didn’t last long and he faded away after a while.

    Baptista… i can’t forget his game against liverpool in a hurry where he scored some beautiful goals. He struggled at times though.

    Sylvinho was a rock. Injuries didnt help his course.

    David Luiz had some decent games and then some blunders that made fans angered at his purchased. Thankfully he put up a show against mancity and chelsea for Fa cup trophy

    Martinelli so far so good. Hope he improves to be better when he is fit again..

    Willian cant be judged yet but I have a feeling he will do well for us. Hopefully we add Gabriel (Lille) to the mix…

    Gilberto Silva was the best Brazilian to play for Arsenal so far. That’s my opinion though

  2. Agree with all those. Boy could we have done with a Gilberto like figure the last 10 years! I am enjoying seeing Edu back at the club as well.

  3. Gilberto should have been captain instead the sulk that Gallas, one of Arsene’s huge mistakes. He was by far our best Brazilian

  4. Agree with all! Gilberto by far my favourite of all time although I am hoping Martinelli will change my mind in the future!

    Martinelli has so much promise about him. I just hope his current injury does not have an impact on his progress or confidence!?

  5. Amongst all Brazilians, Gilberto was the most outstanding player. Edu was better, but he had serious competition from Vieira

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