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

Arsenal defender Pablo Mari is set to join Italian side Udinese on loan for the rest of the season.

It’s been two years since the Spaniard arrived in London – initially on a temporary basis – becoming the club’s 10th loan signing this century.

Arsenal have borrowed 12 players since the turn of the millennium, with a 13th potentially on the horizon.

The Gunners are reportedly in the process of agreeing a loan deal for Juventus midfielder Arthur Melo, although his current employers will have to find a replacement first.

Here, Mirror Football takes a look at Arsenal’s 12 loan signings of the 21st century… including the return of one of their greatest players of all time.

Who is Arsenal’s biggest loan signing? Let us know in the comments below!

Junichi Inamoto

Junichi Inamoto failed to make a Premier League appearance for Arsenal



Arsenal signed Inamoto on loan from Japanese side Gamba Osaka in the summer of 2001, but the midfielder did not try his luck at Highbury.

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

Neither of those appearances came in the Premier League, although he did have 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, earning 82 senior caps for Japan.

Julio Baptista

Julio Baptista scored four goals in a League Cup draw against Liverpool


The Daily Mirror)

A lifelong 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 striker’s move to the Emirates didn’t quite work out as he only scored three Premier League goals before returning to Spain.

Baptista’s only moment of glory at Arsenal was a four-goal run in a League Cup victory at Liverpool. The Gunners then lost the final to Chelsea.

Discussing his reasons for leaving after just one season, the Brazilian told the Daily mail in May 2020: “Arsenal were unable to agree a permanent transfer for me as they could not afford Real Madrid’s asking price.”

Baptista won La Liga at Real the following season before moving on to Roma, Malaga and others, retiring in May 2019.

Yossi Benayoun

Yossi Benayoun signed late in the August 2011 transfer window


Bryn Lennon/Getty)

Wenger 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 well at Arsenal, scoring six goals in 25 appearances.

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

Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry scored on his second Arsenal debut



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

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

At this point, Henry was no longer the player he once was. His rhythm was gone and he was earning one last pay day at MLS team New York Red Bulls.

The veteran struggled to make a real impact, scoring once in four Premier League appearances, despite giving Gunners fans a night to remember.

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

“I never thought I would play for Arsenal again, let alone score the winner,” Henry said full-time. “I don’t know what to say, to be honest.

“The feeling I had when I scored was incredible… 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 would tell a young child. Unfortunately, it’s not often like that in our game, but it does happen sometimes. He did it all.”

Emiliano Viviano

Emiliano Vivano has never played a competitive game for Arsenal


Pictures of Arsenal)

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

The six-cap Italian international never played a single minute against the Gunners before returning to his native country at the end of the season.

Viviano went on to play for Sampdoria, Sporting Lisbon, SPAL and currently wears the No.2 shirt – literally – for Turkish side Fatih Karagumruk.

Kim Kalstrom

Kim Kallstrom scored a penalty in the FA Cup semi-final shootout against Wigan Athletic


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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 – only playing in March – and has made just three Premier League appearances.

He did, however, score a penalty in the FA Cup semi-final shootout against Wigan, with the Gunners beating Hull City in the final.

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

He then played against Swiss club Grasshoppers and Swedish club Djurgarden before hanging up his boots in December 2017.

Denis Suarez

Denis Suarez failed to impress at the Emirates



The first loan signing of the post-Wenger era, Suarez’s stay 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, did not make his pre-match debut.

“His adaptation is good but he needs time,” then-Arsenal boss Unai Emery said in February. “He’s OK to start being involved in the first XI but also to be on the bench so he can play later in the game.

“This adaptation is important for us and then he can also play, but he has to earn it, little by little, to gain minutes, confidence and pace with us.”

Rumors in March suggested Emery was unimpressed with Suarez in training, with the player replying on social media: “Don’t talk about my training if you have no idea.”

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

Dani Ceballos

Dani Ceballos spent two seasons on loan to Arsenal from Real Madrid but was not signed permanently


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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 some quality glimpses in his first spell 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 “very skilled player” in the press.

But Ceballos failed to deliver and didn’t get a permanent gig at the Emirates. Now 25, he struggles to land a game at Real.

Cedric Soares

Cedric Soares is still on the books in the Emirates


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

The Portuguese ace only played the following July due to injury and the Covid pandemic, making just five Premier League appearances during his temporary spell.

Perhaps even more bizarrely, 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 said to be on Atletico Madrid’s radar.

Pablo Mari

Pablo Mari set to leave Arsenal in January


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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 stay ended.

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 embarrassing, he didn’t know what to do,” Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand said after Arsenal’s home defeat to Chelsea last August.

Martin Odegaard

Martin Odegaard has a bright future in the Emirates


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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 seen as the next big thing in European football when he joined Real Madrid as a teenager six years earlier, making his international debut aged 15.

However, he struggled to break into Real’s three-time Champions League-winning side and spent most of his time at the Bernabeu on loan.

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

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

“He’s still a very young man but he already has huge club experiences and has unique talents for the way we want to play, so I’m really pleased the club have made the effort.”

And, so far, it looked like a good deal. Odegaard has scored four Premier League goals this season and should only improve with age.

Matt Ryan

Mat Ryan failed to qualify at Arsenal


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

The Australian international had lost his place 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 hasn’t been the best, making just three Premier League appearances before joining Spanish side Real Sociedad last summer.

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