Unai Emery: 12 Players Aston Villa Boss Signed at Arsenal and Where They Are Now

Unai Emery: 12 Players Aston Villa Boss Signed at Arsenal and Where They Are Now

Elijah Odetokun
updated at December 8, 2023 at 10:02 AM
In this article:
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  • Unai Emery has turned fortunes around for Aston Villa after just one year
  • Villa are his second Premier League job having previously managed Arsenal
  • His dismissal at the Emirates Stadium brought in the era of Mikel Arteta

After guiding Aston Villa into the top four with a dominant win over Manchester City, Unai Emery is one of the men of the moment in the Premier League.

He had previously managed in the Premier League at Arsenal, but his time ended unceremoniously, and he was dismissed in November 2019, ushering in the Mikel Arteta era after Freddie Ljunberg managed a few games as interim.

Unai Emery, Arsenal, Eintracht Frankfurt, UEFA Europa League, Emirates Stadium.
Unai Emery reacts on the touchline during his final game in charge of Arsenal against Eintracht Frankfurt in the UEFA Europa League. Photo by Leila Cooker.
Source: Getty Images

His downfall at the club owed to the failure of some of his signings. Sports Brief looks at where his 12 signings are now, as first analysed by Planet Football.

Players signed by Unai Emery at Arsenal

1. David Luiz

The Brazilian centre-back was Emery’s first signing after he got into trouble with new boss Frank Lampard at Chelsea. He joined for £8 million and had good moments as well as mistakes. He sent a passionate message to the manager on his dismissal before following suit in the summer of 2020.

2. Kieran Tierney

The Scottish full-back’s injury issues were the only reason he could not succeed at Arsenal to his full potential. He is currently on loan at Real Sociedad but watched the majority of the first half of the season in the hospital bed due to a hamstring injury. He could leave Arsenal permanently at the end of the season.

3. Nicolas Pepe

Possibly the one that gave Emery the most criticism. Per Goal, the £72mil signing from Lille failed to live up to expectations. He scored 27 times in 112 games and was allowed to join Trabzonspor on a free transfer after spending last season on loan at OGC Nice.

4. Dani Ceballos

The Spanish midfielder spent two years on loan at Arsenal and failed to convince Arteta to make his deal permanent. He is back at Real Madrid, where he is a part player for Carlo Ancelotti and was part of the 2022 Champions League winning squad.

5. William Saliba

Per Sky Sports, Arsenal paid £27mil to sign the 18-year-old from Saint Etienne in 2019. He went on several loans and became a first-team member last season and is one of the most important players for Arteta. Many fans believe his injury derailed their title aspirations.

6. Gabriel Martinelli

Another vital player for Arteta who was signed by Emery. Martinelli moved to England from Brazilian club Ituano for £6m in 2019. Under the current boss, he showed his full potential and has held down the left wing for the Gunners.

7. Denis Suarez

One of the most disappointing signings of Emery’s time at Arsenal, he spent only six months but struggled to cope with the physicality of the Premier League. He returned to Barcelona at the end of the season. He’s currently at Villarreal, having played for Celta Vigo and Espanyol after leaving Barca.

8. Matteo Guendouzi

The promising France midfielder was signed by Emery but pushed out by Arteta for disciplinary reasons. He is currently on loan at SS Lazio from French club Olympique Marseille.

9. Lucas Torreira

The Uruguayan midfielder started brightly at Arsenal and had fans buzzing about his former team Sampdoria, thanking the Italian club for the player after his early performances. His reputation dropped under Arteta, and he is currently at Galatasaray.

10. Sokratis

The Greek defender did not live up to the hype around him when he joined and returned to Greece with Olympiacos after two seasons. At 35, he is currently at Spanish club Real Betis on a one-year contract.

11. Stephan Lichtsteiner

The experienced Swiss defender spent one season with the Gunners after joining from Juventus. He left Arsenal to join Augsburg and retired after a year. He is currently a watchmaker.

12. Bernd Leno

The German goalkeeper displaced Petr Cech after the former Chelsea goalie was injured. He retained his starting berth until Aaron Ramsdale demoted him. He left for Fulham last season, where he’s an integral member of Marco Silva’s team.

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Saliba's importance to Arsenal

Sports Brief analysed Saliba’s importance to Arsenal after the French international defender's contract was extended by another four years till 2027.

He missed the final 11 games of last season after a back injury suffered in the Europa League quarter-final against Sporting Lisbon, and the team's stats in areas he contributed dropped.

Elijah Odetokun photo
Elijah Odetokun
Elijah Odetokun is Reuters-trained journalist with three years of experience having previously worked at Daily Times Nigeria, OmaSports and El Futbolero.
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