Six bargain basement free agents Unai Emery could sign this January

Unai Emery claims Arsenal have 'no money' but we reckon their budget would stretch to signing up these ex-Premier League 'legends'...


Despite being one of the ten most valuable clubs in Europe, Arsenal are, in fact, penniless.

Well, sort of. The Gunners actually have quite a lot of money, but aren’t in a position to spend much of it thanks to some pretty rubbish management of their wage bill. We won’t bore you by talking about stuff like FFP and STCC, but suffice it to say that Ivan Gazidis and the lads made a bit of a mess of things in recent years. That’s why Aaron Ramsey is leaving and the club is paying Mesut Ozil £350,000 per week.

Still, there’s always room for a creative solution. For Arsenal this January, that probably means spending a tiny amount of cash on several over-the-hill and probably-never-that-good-in-the-first-place ex-Premier League “stars”. What with their injury crisis and a seeming inability to pay any transfer fees whatsoever, we reckon it’s the only way forward.

And so, since they’ve just lost dear old Sven Mislintat, Paddy decided to do some scouting of the free agent market so Arsenal don’t have to. Here are the players you can expect to see happily smiling for the cameras at the Emirates before January is out.

Stephen Ireland

Let’s be honest: this would be great craic. And great news for fish tank salesmen in North London.

Ireland burst onto the scene about ten years ago with some impressive performances for Man City, even going so far as to be named City’s player of the season in 2007-08.

How times change. Many felt Ireland would go on to become one of the best-ever Irish footballers, but it’s safe to say at this stage that, well, he didn’t.

Still, Ireland was recently released by Bolton without having played a single game for the club, so you know he’ll be nice and fresh.

“Big” Chris Samba

The former Anzhi Makhachkala star recently left Aston Villa after 12 scintillating games in the space of a year.

Back in Samba’s Blackburn days Sam Allardyce gave the defender rave reviews – and it was hardly surprising; the Congo international was a colossus at the back for Rovers. After Allardyce’s ousting by Steve Kean, Samba perceptively saw which way the wind was blowing and hastily packed his bags for Dagestan.

Harry Redknapp then broke the bank to bring him to QPR, who were promptly relegated with Samba returning to Anzhi. The centre-back was reportedly on £100,000 per week at Loftus Road, which is remarkable considering Redknapp claimed Samba had taken “a massive pay cut” to join Rangers.

At this stage, though, you’d reckon Emery could convince Samba to sign on the dotted line for significantly less.


Arsenal would have absolutely, one hundred per cent won the Premier League in 2007-08 were it not for Eduardo having his leg broken following a tackle by Birmingham City’s Martin Taylor.

Sadly, the incident was the beginning of the end for Arsenal’s callow, youthful side that season. Whatever the truth about how Eduardo’s injury affected the team, that Birmingham match has gone down in club folklore. There was Gael Clichy’s infamous concession of a last-minute penalty to turn three points into one, followed by Willy Gallas’ post-match sit-down protest in the centre circle at St Andrew’s. Scenes.

That said, many Gooners probably hanker for an era when their club was actually in a position to throw away a lead in the title race. What better way to remember the better times than by bringing back the man whose misfortune started it all?

Benoit Assou-Ekotto

Benoit Assou-Ekotto doesn’t really enjoy playing football. Which is a bit of a pity for him considering he’s spent the past 17 years or so of his life as a professional footballer.

He may have been on the books at North London rivals Tottenham for nine of those years, but during that time he did as much as anyone in a Gunners shirt to ensure Spurs didn’t finish above Arsenal in the Premier League. Within two seasons of Assou-Ekotto’s departure from White Hart Lane, Tottenham were league runners-up.

Coincidence? We don’t think so; the man is a bona fide Arsenal legend, a deep-cover agent with a red-and-white soul. Emery should do the right thing and bring him back in from the cold.

Johan Djourou

Some people might think Djourou was emblematic of the Banter Era at Arsenal. But that’s unfair on the Swiss defender.

Like Eduardo, he’s simply a reminder of more innocent times at the Emirates. An era before Arsenal Fan TV and “Get out while you still can, Joel”, when the club’s fans still had belief that their team was actually capable of competing at the top of the Premier League.

Besides, Djourou has 75 caps for Switzerland and played at the World Cup in Russia alongside current Arsenal stars Stephan Lichtsteiner and Granit Xhaka, a fact that would actually make him one of the most successful players at the club.

Moreover, some people are still clinging onto the belief that Djourou-Senderos was potentially one of the greatest centre-half pairings in the club’s history – if Johan can put in a call to Philippe and get him signed up, it may even be possible to rectify that missed opportunity.

Liam Ridgewell

Unquestionably, Liam Ridgewell is one of the finest ever defenders to play at the top level (in the USA).

His composure on the ball, tactical acumen and positional sixth-sense made him one of the true stars of his generation (in the USA). He was beloved by fans, coveted by opposition managers and admired by pundits (in the USA).

Quite simply, he was the man his team-mates (in the USA) wanted to be.

So popular and successful did he become (in the USA) that they even named a celebration after him.

The Ridgey Roll.

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