After ranking the worst to best African players to play for Arsenal, some readers asked for me to do a similar list for those from Asia and South America. With Brazil into the last 8 of this years World Cup, I thought I give my opinion on the 12 South Americans that have played for the Gunners in the Premiership.
Fabian Caballero- Argentina -12th
He was loaned to Arsenal in 1998, playing for the first team 3 times in each of the domestic competitions. Did have a decent goal to game ratio in the reserves but failed to make his stay permanent. He did stay in Britain though with a more productive spell in Scotland.
Santos -Brazil – 11th
As a result of an 8-2 humiliation at Old Trafford our board suddenly felt pressured to spend the Fabregas and Nasri money, giving themselves just a day to get the transactions done. As usual though, finding value in the transfer market was prioritised over the squad’s needs. Santos was a typical Brazilian full back – an attacking asset but weak defensively. How we qualified for the Champions League that year defies belief.
Martinez – Argentina – 10th
Has had 5 loans away from the club. He took a while to shake off a rotten display in the famous 7-5 League Cup win at Reading. He showed character to not let it affect his confidence and has since been reliable in the few games he’s started. Those inside the club say all the right things about him but the signing of Leno means he will have to wait longer to be our number 1, most likely won’t happen.
Vivas- Argentina – 9th
Played 69 times at Highbury but 40 of them came off the bench. In his first season, his versatility saw him as back up for Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn, but as time progressed he was used less frequently, only appearing in the League Cup.
Ospina – Colombia – 8th
Was signed off the back on an impressive World Cup in Brazil.
Despite never winning the battle to be our number 1, Arsene Wenger’s policy of having a designated cup keeper has seem him get plenty of minutes. He is certainly good enough to be starting every week elsewhere.
Baptista – Brazilian – 7th
Came on loan as part of the deal that saw Reyes return to Spain. Billed as the ‘beast’ he failed to ever replicate the form for us or Real Madrid that he had shown at Sevilla. He did create lasting memories in the League cup with 4 goals at Anfield and a Double at Spurs. His parent club were willing to make it permanent but we were no longer interested. Quite a fall from grace when we apparently were willing to pay over 20 million for him 2 years before.
Denilson- Brazil – 6th
With pressure to pay off the stadium debt, Arsene Wenger made a choice to break up his ‘Untouchables’and put his faith in young talent. While no one could doubt the youngster’s effort and work rate he could be cited as an example of how his manager had too much faith in his players, insisting they would come good when it was obvious he wasn’t quite at that level. The problem was the Frenchmen had so much trust, he paid wages that no one else would give for an average talent. It meant we were paying Denilson’s salary for years while he was back in his homeland.
Gabriel- Brazil – 5th
Did he deserve to be sold anymore then say a Mustafi? The irony being that perhaps his best performance for us was against Man City in the FA Cup semi final, one of his final starts. In other words, on his day good, but he was never going to be the leader our back 4 needed.
Sylvinho – Brazil – 4th
A full back ahead of his time, a left back who was a big part of our attacking play. The goals he scored were memorable, particularly a couple he got against Chelsea. It would have been interesting to see if he didn’t suffer a serious injury what would have happened. In his absence we saw the emergence of Ashley Cole whigh effectively ended the Brazilian’s tenure at Highbury.
Edu – Brazilian – 3rd
A crucial part of our squad, the type of individual you need to win titles. If there was an injury in midfield you could rely on Edu, who’s technique and work rate were as good as anyones.
Born anywhere else, he would of had more caps. There was even talk at one point of him qualifying to play for England through the citizenship rule. Perhaps undervalued even by his own employers.
Edu would later cite that he felt he was offered to extend his contract so late in the day it made him feel not appreciated.
Sanchez – Chile -2nd
On his day, we could boast to having a World Class player at the club, scoring in two FA Cup Finals for us. What might stop him from being considered a legend was his attitude which to this day divides gooners. You sensed the Chilean realised he was better then most around him. It meant when things were not going well he was too quick to make his feelings apparent. Most at the Emirates would’ve wanted his colleagues to share his winning mentality but he was being paid a lot of money to lead by example and guide the youngsters at the club. It’s hard not to judge him for his final 5 months with us either. While not doubting his professionalism, his statistics weren’t what they were the previous 3 seasons. Saying that, he’s not got going yet at Old Trafford.
Gilberto Silva – Brazilian – First
The biggest compliment I can give this man, is if we had the likes of him over the last decade, we would have won more trophies. Every great side needs a Silva. He was happy for others to get the lime light while he does the dirty side of the game. Perhaps a player you don’t appreciate until he’s gone. He never got enough credit for stepping up as a leader and helping the transition from ‘The Untouchables’ to youngsters being introduced to the first team.
Gooners, let me know what other lists you like.