What happened to Arsenal’s 12 loan signings this century as Pablo Mari departs

Junichi Inamoto failed to make a Premier League appearance for Arsenal
(Image: Getty)


Arsenal signed Inamoto on loan from Japanese outfit Gamba Osaka in the summer of 2001, yet the midfielder failed to take his chance at Highbury.

Inamoto, then 22, struggled to break into Arsene Wenger's double-winning side, featuring just four times in all competitions during the 2001-02 campaign.

None of those appearances came in the Premier League, although he did get the chance to play in the division when he joined Fulham on loan the following season.

Inamoto went on to play for West Brom, Cardiff, Galatasaray, Eintracht Frankfurt, Rennes and a handful of Japanese clubs… and is yet to retire.

The 42-year-old is still on the books at SC Sagamihara and can be proud of his long career, winning 82 senior caps for Japan.

Julio Baptista

Julio Baptista famously scored four goals in a League Cup tie against Liverpool
(Image: The Daily Mirror)

Long-term admirer Wenger finally got his man in August 2006 when the Gunners signed Brazil international Baptista on a season-long loan from Real Madrid.

The forward's move to the Emirates didn't quite work out, though, as he scored just three Premier League goals before returning to Spain.

Baptista's only moment of glory at Arsenal was a four-goal haul in a League Cup win at Liverpool. The Gunners went on to lose the final to Chelsea.

Discussing why he left after just one season, the Brazilian told the Daily Mail in May 2020: "Arsenal were unable to agree a permanent move for me because they couldn't afford Real Madrid's asking price."

Baptista went on to win La Liga at Real the following season before spells with Roma, Malaga and others, retiring in May 2019.

Yossi Benayoun

Yossi Benayoun was a late signing in the August 2011 transfer window
(Image: Bryn Lennon / Getty)

Wenger famously made four last-minute signings in the August 2011 window, bringing Park Chu-young, Andre Santos, Per Mertesacker, Mikel Arteta and Benayoun to the Emirates.

The Israel international had struggled to make an impact at parent club Chelsea after spells with West Ham and Liverpool but did OK at Arsenal, scoring six goals in 25 appearances.

Benayoun went on to play for West Ham (again), Queens Park Rangers and several Israeli sides before calling it a day in April 2019.

Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry scored on his second Arsenal debut
(Image: PA)

Arsenal fans were devastated to see record scorer Henry join Barcelona in the summer of 2007, seeing them drop out of contention for the Premier League title.

The Frenchman was never expected to return to the Emirates, leaving supporters shocked when he turned up on loan four-and-a-half years later.

By this point, Henry was no longer the player he once was. His pace had gone and he was earning one final payday at MLS outfit New York Red Bulls.

The veteran struggled to make any real impact, scoring once in four Premier League appearances, although he did give Gunners fans an evening to remember.

Coming on against Leeds for his second debut, he scored a late winner to send Wenger's side into the next round of the FA Cup.

"I never thought I'd play for Arsenal again, let alone score the winner," said Henry at full-time. "I don't know what to say, to be honest.

"The feeling I had when I scored was amazing… I will always remember tonight. I don't know why but, when it comes to Arsenal, something happens with me."

Wenger added: "It was a dream, a story you'd tell a young kid. Unfortunately it's not often like that in our game but sometimes it happens. He's done it all."

Emiliano Viviano

Emiliano Vivano never played a competitive game for Arsenal
(Image: Arsenal Pics)

In the summer of 2013, Wenger added Palermo goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano to his goalkeeping department.

The six-cap Italy international never played a single minute the Gunners before returning to his homeland at the end of the season.

Viviano went on to play for Sampdoria, Sporting Lisbon, SPAL and is currently wearing the No2 jersey – literally – at Turkish outfit Fatih Karagumruk.

Kim Kallstrom

Kim Kallstrom scored a penalty in the FA Cup semi-final shootout against Wigan Athletic
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

And Viviano wasn't the only curious loan signing Wenger made during the 2013-14 season, bringing in midfielder Kallstrom from Spartak Moscow.

The Sweden international arrived at the Emirates injured – not playing until March – and made just three Premier League appearances.

He did score a penalty in the FA Cup semi-final shootout against Wigan, though, with the Gunners going on to beat Hull City in the final.

"Although my contribution was small in the 120-year history of the club, it was a highlight for me," admitted Kallstrom in 2016. "The greatest 15 minutes of my life."

He went on to play Swiss side Grasshoppers and Swedish club Djurgarden before hanging up his boots in December 2017.

Denis Suarez

Denis Suarez failed to impress at the Emirates
(Image: REUTERS)

The first loan signing of the post-Wenger era, Suarez's time at the Emirates was a disaster from start to finish.

The one-cap Spain international joined the Gunners from Barcelona in January and, like Kallstrom, failed to make his debut until Match.

"His adaptation is good but it needs time," said then Arsenal boss Unai Emery in February. "He is OK to start being involved in the first XI but also to be on the bench so that later in the match he can play.

"This adaptation is important for us and then also he can be playing, but he needs to earn it, little-by-little, to take minutes, confidence and rhythm with us."

Rumours in March suggested Emery was not impressed with Suarez in training, with the player responding on social media: "Don't talk about my workouts if you have no idea."

Suarez returned to Barcelona at the end of the season without a single Arsenal start to his name. Now 28, he plays for boyhood club Celta Vigo.

Dani Ceballos

Dani Ceballos spent two seasons on loan at Arsenal from Real Madrid but wasn't signed permanently
(Image: Getty Images)

Suarez's replacement at Arsenal was fellow midfielder Ceballos, who arrived on a season-long loan from Real Madrid in the summer of 2019.

The 11-cap Spain international showed glimpses of quality during his first term at the Emirates, scoring the winner against Sheffield United in the FA Cup quarter-final.

His form persuaded new manager Arteta to keep him on loan for the 2020-21 campaign, describing him as a "highly skilful player" in the press.

But Ceballos failed to deliver and was not given a permanent gig at the Emirates. Now 25, he's struggling to get a game at Real.

Cedric Soares

Cedric Soares is still on the books at the Emirates
(Image: Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Arsenal snapped up Southampton right-back Cedric Soares on loan in January 2020, one of the strangest transfers in the club's recent history.

The Portuguese ace didn't play until the following July due to injury and the Covid pandemic, going on to make just five Premier League appearances in his temporary spell.

Perhaps even more bizarre, Arsenal then gave him a permanent gig ahead of the following season and he continues to be a squad player for Arteta.

Cedric has played just 19 times in the Premier League since joining the Gunners full-time and is reportedly on Atletico Madrid's radar.

Pablo Mari

Pablo Mari is set to leave Arsenal in January
(Image: Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Mari joined Arsenal in the same transfer window as Cedric and had a similar impact, making just three appearances in all competitions before his temporary spell came to an end.

Yet the Gunners also signed the centre-back on a permanent contract, paying Copa Libertadores champions Flamengo £7m for his services.

Mari's time as the Emirates has been disappointing – to say the least – making just 22 unconvincing appearances in two years.

"Mari was an embarrassment, he didn’t know what to do," said Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand after Arsenal's home defeat to Chelsea last August.

Martin Odegaard

Martin Odegaard has a bright future at the Emirates
(Image: Getty Images)

Arguably Arsenal's only successful loan signing this century, fans were delighted to see Odegaard arrive at the Emirates in January 2021.

The Norwegian was viewed as European football's next big thing when he joined Real Madrid as a teenager six years earlier, making his senior international debut aged 15.

He struggled to break into Real's three-time Champions League-winning team, however, and spent most of his time at the Bernabeu out on loan.

Odegaard did well during his six-month spell at Arsenal, persuading the Premier League side to invest £35million on him in August.

"He made us better, we needed more options and alternatives for creativity," said Arteta in the summer.

"He is still a really young man but he has huge experiences in clubs already and has unique talents for the way we want to play so I am really pleased the club have made the effort."

And, so far, it's looked like a good bit of business. Odegaard has scored four Premier League goals this season and should only get better with age.

Mat Ryan

Mat Ryan failed to make the grade at Arsenal
(Image: Getty Images)

Arsenal's most recent loan signing came in January 2021, when they signed Brighton stopper Ryan to bolster their goalkeeping department.

The Australia international had lost his spot at the Amex to Robert Sanchez and had nothing to lose when he decided to become Bernd Leno's understudy.

Ryan's time at Arsenal wasn't the best, making just three Premier League appearances before joining Spanish side Real Sociedad last summer.