Arsenal made five signings in 2016 but which was the best?
#5 Mohamed Elneny
Back in January 2016, we signed a relatively unknown defensive midfielder from Basel to help deal with the seemingly constant merry-go-round of injuries we were getting in central midfield at Arsenal.
The Egyptian had played 144 games for the Swiss team over three years and we signed him for a reported £5m.
Although he’s not a regular starter for Arsenal, he’s been reasonably solid when called upon and has gone on to make 34 appearances in all competitions for us since signing.
Elneny loves a shot from long range, which explains why, playing for a team managed by Arsene Wenger, he’s only scored once. However, we has assisted three times.
#4 Rob Holding
21-year-old Rob Holding was Bolton’s player of the season last term and we snapped him up in the summer for a reported £2.5m.
He since gone on to make just seven appearances for Arsenal in all competitions but considering the calibre of centreback in front of him, I highly doubt that’s a surprise for anyone.
When called upon, he’s been solid and, if he continues developing or even goes out on loan, I’m sure he’s one to watch for the future.
#3 Lucas Perez
The £17m forward from Deportivo initially found it hard to bed into an Arsenal side in which both Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud were ahead of him in the pecking order but, after recovering from an ankle injury he picked up against Reading in the EFL Cup, he’s gradually began to work his way into the team.
Although the Spaniard has only accumulated 108 minutes in the Premier League over five appearances, he’s featured in the EFL Cup before Southampton knocked us out, scoring two and assisting one, and, scored a hat-trick against Basel in the Champions League.
He may never be first choice striker but he’s a useful forward and developing well.
#2 Shkodran Mustafi
I’m not sure many of us predicted what an impact having Mustafi at centreback would make. The former Valencia defender is commanding and reads the game well, working effectively with Laurent Koscielny from the get-go.
He’s not a perfect player and our back four does look nervous at times but the difference made by not having him in the side due to his recent hamstring injury is huge.
What a great signing.
#1 Granit Xhaka
Aside from Mustafi, I’m not sure anyone can argue with the impact Xhaka has had on the side.
It look a while for his fitness to reach a level in which Wenger was comfortable starting him every game and his temper IS a little fiery. However, his ball controll, passing and creativity is unreal.
Next to Francis Coquelin, who plays far more defensively, he balances out the midfield, closing the gap between them and the forwards and giving them an outlet.
It’s no coincidence that he’s completed the most successful passes out of most Arsenal players recently and I’m sure he’s only going to get better.
For me, Xhaka is Arsenal’s best signing of 2016.