Arsenal

Arsenal

Premier League • England

Ranking the 17 Brazilian transfers Arsenal have made in the Premier League era: Gilberto, Santos…

Arsenal have always signed players from all across the world – and they’ve recruited some great talents from Brazil.

The Gunners have spent heavily under Mikel Arteta, with well over £100m invested this summer alone. Indeed, the capture of Gabriel Jesus was their most costly arrival; a fee of £45m to land the Brazilian. He’s made a great start to life at Emirates Stadium too. To that end, the Gunners will hope that the striker proves a shrewd investment in their quest to reclaim a top-four spot.

However, not all Arsenal’s Brazilian signings have been success stories. In fact, a few of their Brazilian signings have failed to make much of an impact in north London.

Indeed, signing No 18 from Brazil could well be on the cards in January with a Palmeiras star linked.

But looking at who has already arrived, we’ve ranked the 17 Brazilians that Arsenal have signed in the Premier League era from worst to best.

17. Pedro Botelho

Botelho left Figueirense and joined Arsenal at the age of 17 in 2012, but he was denied a work permit to play in England.

After five years on loan in Spain, the left-back joined Atletico Paranaense in 2012, having never made a first-team appearance for the Gunners.

16. Wellington Silva

Another player that didn’t play for Arsenal’s first team, Wellington joined the club in 2010 and was initially going to get a “Special Talent Visa” from the FA but they backracked on their decision.

He then had five loan spells in Spain and even spent a season at Bolton after finally becoming eligible to play in England. The winger didn’t do enough to impress Arsenal and was sold back to boyhood club Fluminense in 2016.

15. Marquinhos

Not to be confused with his namesake at PSG, Marquinhos joined Arsenal from Sau Paulo in the summer of 2022. The 19-year-old is yet to make his first-team debut but has impressed in the Under-21s and still has plenty of time on his side.

14. Juan

Signed from Sao Paulo in 2001, Juan found himself behind Asley Cole and Gael Clichy in the pecking order and made just two first-team appearances for the club.

After suffering an ACL knee injury, the left-back had a loan spell at Millwall and then signed for Fluminense on a permanent deal in 2004.

13. Willian

While Willian won two Premier League titles and an FA Cup, he lifted those trophies at Chelsea rather than Arsenal.

The winger joined the Gunners on a free transfer in 2020 but failed to replicate his Chelsea form, scoring just one goal in 37 appearances in all competitions.

Despite signing a three-year deal, he spent just one season at the Emirates before ripping up his contract and joining Brazilian side Corinthians.

“I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t happy. That’s why I didn’t perform. I don’t want to go into the details,” Willian told Ferdinand’s YouTube channel Five. “When I arrived there I was happy, from the beginning I was motivated, I wanted to do well – new club, new mates, new project.

“But after three months, I said to my agent: ‘Please, I want to go’. I don’t want to speak bad about the club, because it is a big club. Arsenal has a big history.

“In football, big players played there before as well. But it didn’t work, it didn’t work. It was, of course, the most difficult time of my career.”

12. Andre Santos

One of four transfer deadline day signings in 2011, Santos arrived from Fenerbahce in a £6.2million deal and replaced Gael Clichy, who had just left for Manchester City.

“Santos is a quality player, with the ability to both defend well and get forward,” Arsene Wenger said after the deal was complete.

Wenger was half-right. The left-back scored a handful of goals for the club, ncluding crucial ones against Chelsea and West Brom, but often made a series of defensive errors.

He also managed provoke the ire of all Arsenal fans by swapping shirts with Robin van Persie at half-time of a game with Manchester United. Three months after the incident, Santos went on loan to Gremio and was then sold to Flamengo.

11. Gabriel Paulista

Having impressed at Villarreal, Paulista joined Arsenal in an £11.3million deal in January 2015 and enjoyed a promising start to his Premier League career.

But it soon became clear that the centre-back was a hot head and he kicked out at Diego Costa after naively falling for the striker’s tricks during a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea.

He then struggled to secure a regular starting role in the team and returned to La Liga in 2017, joining Valencia on a permanent deal.

10. Denilson

Despite only making a handful of appearances for Brazilian side Sao Paulo, Denilson did enough to impress Wenger and joined Arsenal at the age of 18 in 2006.

“He’s a little bit in between Tomas Rosicky and Gilberto [Silva],” Wenger said.

While the midfielder did make over 150 appearances for Arsenal, he struggled with the physical demands of the Premier League and became renowned for his sideways passing.

Denilson also suffered from homesickness during his time in north London and spent two seasons on loan at Sao Paulo before making the deal permanent in 2013.

9. Julio Baptista

Baptista left Real Madrid and joined Arsenal on a season-long loan deal in 2006, with Jose Antonio Reyes moving in the opposite direction.

Supporters will remember him best for the four goals he scored in a League Cup quarter-final victory at Liverpool and his strike against Tottenham in the semi-final.

But he failed to replicate those performances in the Premier League and Wenger decided against making the deal permanent.

8. Gabriel Jesus

Admittedly, it’s still early days but Jesus has hit the ground running during his first few weeks at Arsenal.

The striker is already justifying the £45million price tag and has registered six direct goal contributions in his first six appearances for the Gunners.

7. Eduardo da Silva

Admittedly, Eduardo played for Croatia throughout his playing career but he was born in Brazil so we’re still including him here.

The striker joined Arsenal in 2007 and scored 12 goals in his first 31 appearances before suffering a horrific leg break during a 2-2 draw with Birmingham that derailed their title challenge.

After recovering from the injury, he showed flashes of brilliance but was never quite the same player and left for Shakhtar Donetsk in 2010.

6. David Luiz

One of football’s biggest enigmas, Luiz left Chelsea and joined Arsenal in an £8million deal in 2019 as Unai Emery looked to add some experience to the dressing room.

The centre-back played a key role in their FA Cup success in 2020, producing a stunning performance in their semi-final victory over Manchester City before helping the Gunners beat his former club in the final.

But his occasional errors would cost his side dearly and he gave away five penalties in 2019-20, setting a Premier League record for most penalties conceded by a player in a single season.

After making 73 appearances for the club, the 35-year-old left at the end of the 2020-21 season and signed for Flamengo.

5. Gabriel Martinelli

Martinelli was a relatively unknown teenager when he moved to north London from Brazilian side Ituano in the summer of 2019.

But he burst onto the scene during his debut season and scored 10 goals in all competitions, including a solo goal against Chelsea that won Arsenal’s Goal of the Season award.

After struggling with a few injury problems, the 21-year-old is now an integral part of Mikel Arteta’s team and has established himself as one of the best wingers in the Premier League.

The fact that he only cost £6million makes this transfer even better.

4. Gabriel Maghalaes

Gabriel has been one of Arsenal’s best performers since his £22million arrival from Lille in the summer of 2020 and has helped fix their defensive issues.

Alongside William Saliba, the 24-year-old will be a key figure in the Arsenal team for years to come.

3. Sylvinho

The first Brazilian to play for Arsenal, Sylvinho joined the club from Corinthians in the summer of 1999 after rejecting advances from Tottenham.

He defended well and quickly managed to usurp Nigel Winterburn as their first-choice left-back, and he also had a knack for scoring some brilliant goals.

The emergence of a certain Ashley Cole threatened the Brazilian’s ever-present role in the first-team in 2000-01, though he still managed to be included in the Premier League PFA Team of the Year.

While Wenger was a big fan of both left-backs, he put his faith in Cole and Sylvinho left for Celta Vigo in 2001.

2. Edu

Arsenal were set to sign Edu in 2000, only for his fake Portuguese passport to delay the move. They finally got their man a few months later and it was definitely worth the wait.

The midfielder endured a tough start to hs Arsenal career but turned things around and helped them win the double in 2001-02, becoming the first Brazilian to win the Premier League.

He was also an important figure in the iconic Invincibles side, appearing in 30 of their 38 Premier League games in 2003-04.

Edu, who is now the technical director at Arsenal, made his 127th and final appearance for the club in May 2005 before joining Valencia on a free transfer.

1. Gilberto Silva

There was only ever going to be one winner.

After starring for Brazil at the 2002 World Cup, Gilberto decided to leave Atletico Mineiro and joined Arsenal in a £4.5million deal.

He marked his debut with a winning goal against Liverpool in the Community Shield and formed a brilliant midfield partnership with Patrick Vieira after taking Edu’s place in the starting XI.

The Brazilian was a crucial component in helping Arsenal win the Premier League title whilst going unbeaten in 2003-04 as he anchored the midfield to allow the more creative players run riot.

Having made 244 apperances for the Gunners, Gilberto bid farewell to the club in 2008 and left a huge void in their midfield.

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