Evaluating the first season of Arsenal's summer signings
Rob Holding joined Arsenal from relegated Bolton | Photo credit: Jan Kruger / The FA

Evaluating the first season of Arsenal's summer signings

A look at how Arsenal's summer transfers performed in their first season at the club.

TJWedderburn
TJ Wedderburn

A common gripe Arsenal fans tend to have with their beloved club is the apparent reluctance to delve into the transfer market.

An example would be the summer of 2015. Goalkeeper Petr Cech was signed from London rivals Chelsea fairly early on in the transfer window, but Arsenal failed to add any other players, meaning a grand total of zero outfield players were purchased that summer. This understandably left fans extremely frustrated.

However - in 2016 - The Gunners had a much busier transfer window, signing a total of five players (including Japanese striker Takuma Asano who was loaned out to Stuttgart), but how many of these summer recruits truly impressed? Here's a look at how Arsenal's 2016 summer signings fared in their debut season in North London.

Granit Xhaka

Signed from: Borussia Mönchengladbach

Transfer fee: £35M

First season rating: 6.5/10

After the signing of swiss international Granit Xhaka, a lot of Arsenal fans were optimistic as to how the 24-year-old would settle in.

Xhaka possessed attributes in the middle of the park the team so desperately missed in the absence of Santi Cazorla. He has the capability to pull the strings in midfield from deep, thanks to his phenomenal passing range and technique.

Despite arriving with a big reputation, Xhaka had quite a mixed start to life in England. 

He showed glimpses of his talent whilst also exposing some weaknesses in his game . He demonstrated his ability to score from distance when he netted a 25 yard screamer away to Watford in September. But he also showed a lack of discipline and maturity, after being sent off in October in a 3-2 win at home to Swansea. 

In January Xhaka would see red once again, he was dismissed by referee Jon Moss in a 2-1 win at home to Burnley, he had also accumulated several yellow cards since the start of the season in August.

Fortunately for Arsenal, Xhaka did find his feet midway through the campaign and put in several exceptional performances toward the latter stages. Including at home to Manchester United where he scored a somewhat fortuitous goal and against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi final at Wembley. 

All in all, a good debut season for Xhaka. Going forward he could play a key role in Arsenal's midfield.

Lucas Perez

Signed from: Deportivo de La Coruña

Transfer fee: £17M

First season rating: 5/10

The situation surrounding Perez is a strange one, despite playing well whenever he was selected, first team opportunities were at a minimum.

This is in no small part down to the fact that Arsene Wenger opted to play Alexis Sanchez in a central striking role. The Chileans form meant Perez had to settle for the occasional appearance out wide, or more commonly, a spot on the bench.

Perez showed he had a nose for goal in Arsenal's Champions League group stage clash against Basel in December. The Spaniard netted a 39 minute hat-trick in an eventual 4-1 victory. His only Premier League goal came away to Bournemouth in a 3-3 draw, a sweet left-footed volley which sparked his team's comeback.

A disappointing season for Perez, who would've wanted to see more first team action. With rumours of Sevilla sniffing around, we could see the 28-year-old depart The Emirates after less than 12 months. 

Shkodran Mustafi

Signed from: Valencia CF

Transfer fee: £35M

First season rating: 6/10

A World Cup winner and a Germany international, big things were predicted for Shkodran Mustafi. 

He made a positive start to English football, he appeared to be a vocal presence at the back and despite being not being the tallest of centre halves, had a tremendous leap which allowed him to compete vigorously in the air. Mustafi would actually remain unbeaten in an Arsenal shirt in his first 21 games for the club- a quite remarkable statistic. 

However, after sustaining an injury in December, Mustafi's form gradually worsened to the point where he was being called out by sections of the Arsenal support. Mistimed lunges, suspect positioning and questionable decision making- many began question whether Mustafi was worth the significant outlay it took to sign him. 

Following Arsenal's switch to a back three, Mustafi found himself in and out of the team, missing the FA Cup final with a concussion. It's fair to say a lot more will be expected of him next season, now that his adaptation period is out the way. 

Rob Holding

Signed from: Bolton

Transfer fee: £2M

First season rating: 9/10

Without doubt, one of the biggest positives of the season for Arsenal supporters is the emergence of Rob Holding.

Signed for pennies in today's market, few could've imagined Holding playing such an important role in the 2016/17 campaign, particularly after his debut at home to Liverpool where The Gunners lost 4-3.

An imposing figure, standing at six feet and two inches, Holding has the steel and grit of a traditional English centre back. But what catches the eye most about the 21-year-old, is his ability with the ball, his composure, passing and dribbling means he can be trusted in tight areas- a big plus for a footballing team like Arsenal.

Holding came into the team under difficult circumstances, Arsenal were badly out of form and were conceding a large quantity of goals. But the England U21 international took everything in his stride and performed like a seasoned veteran. The best of his performances coming in Arsenal's biggest match of the season, the FA Cup final against Chelsea. 

2016/17 proved to be a breakout season for the promising Rob Holding, who has now been touted as a future captain for club and country. After being signed for just £2M, the word 'bargain' doesn't quite seem to do the transfer justice.

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