These are strange, strange times. With the world pretty much shutting down, with no major events to talk about or watch, football betting odds have very much taken a back seat for the time being. What better reason to take a trip down memory lane and check out some of the strangest signings in transfer history?
Arsenal are no strangers to a bizarre bit of business in the transfer window, and while it was really difficult to narrow down, here are the five names we still scratch our heads over. Let us know if you agree, or if you believe we’ve missed someone off.
5) Honorary mention: Nicklas Bendtner (Loaned to Juventus)
Okay, so it was only a loan move and it was away from Arsenal to the Italian giants, but we had to include Nicklas Bendtner in the list because it was one of the most bizarre cases in Arsenal’s transfer history. Gunners fans were probably glad to be rid of him, but no doubt neutrals were scratching their heads, and Juventus fans were certainly confused by the signing.
The Dane had previously been on loan at Sunderland, scoring eight goals, so it’s anyone’s guess what the Old Lady were thinking. It took over two months for the striker to make his first first-team appearance and his time in Turin was marred by off-the-pitch controversies. By the time he returned to the line-up, Juventus had already sealed the title and needless to say, they chose not to make his move permanent, so Nicklas Bendtner returned to the Emirates.
4) Park Chu-Young (£5.5m from AS Monaco)
In bizarre circumstances, Park Chu-young of AS Monaco was reportedly signing a contract with Lille, when he heard about Arsenal’s interest and immediately boarded a plane to join the North London club. At the time, Arsene Wenger said:
“He will add true quality to our attacking forces and will be a valuable addition to the squad.”
How wrong he was about the AS Monaco forward. It was always a tough ask for anyone to fill the void left by Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas, but the South Korean made just one solitary Premier League appearance (seven appearances in all competitions) in three seasons for the Gunners, which was fragmented by loan spells at Celta Vigo and Watford.
3) Kim Källström (Loan from Spartak Moscow)
How do you respond to an injury crisis? By signing another injured player, of course! It was always a case of what if for the Swede, who put pen to paper on a loan move from Spartak Moscow to North London, despite having fractured his vertebrae – reportedly by attempting a bicycle kick on an Abu Dhabi beach.
Joining in the January transfer window, Kim Källström eventually made his debut two months later in the Premier League. He famously came on as an extra-time substitute in the FA Cup semi-final against Wigan Athletic, and scored the second of four penalties as the Gunners progressed to the final – but he wasn’t on the team sheet that day, and eventually, the then Spartak Moscow midfielder left Arsenal with less than a handful of appearances to his name.
2) André Santos (£7m from Fenerbahce)
If Arsenal thought that a Brazilian defender could solve their problems at the back, they were sadly mistaken. Andre Santos was one of the three signings as Wenger also added Per Mertesacker and Yossi Benayoun to his ranks, famously known as the 2011 “trolley dash” in Arsenal’s transfer history.
The Fenerbahce full-back arrived with reasonable pedigree, 22 caps for Seleção and Wenger described him as a “quality player, with the ability to both defend well and get forward”. However, his defensive frailties were for all to see and the fact that he opted for the number 11 shirt highlighted he’d be more comfortable as a winger, than a full-back.
The final straw for fans was during the Premier League match against Manchester United in November 2012. After a torrid first half, he decided to swap shirts at half time with former captain and ‘Judas’, Robin Van Persie. Needless to say, within three months, Andre Santos had returned to Brazil.
1) David Luiz (£8m from Chelsea)
We repeat: if Arsenal thought a Brazilian defender could solve their problems at the back, they were sadly mistaken. Ending with another deadline day panic buy, David Luiz made the move from West to North London last August.
When the news of Luiz switching Chelsea with Arsenal finally broke, both sets of fans were furious with the transfer and social media was flooded with ragging comments. Not only was it a signing from a rival club, but Premier League supporters had become accustomed to Luiz’s inconsistencies, lack of focus and disastrous defending.
So, while for many £8m sounded like a coupe, Luiz’s transfer from Chelsea has proved nothing but a disaster. More interestingly, Arsenal’s away form in this disrupted season has been their downfall, having only won twice on the road and Luiz didn’t play in either of those fixtures. He may have the most famous barnet in the division, but he’s still one of the strangest signings ever in Arsenal’s transfer history.