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Andre Santos’ difficult time in England seems to have ended as Arsenal have decided to send him on loan to Gremio in his native Brazil, after one season and a half of inept performances that has finally seen Arsene Wenger’s patience reach breaking-point.
An abject night against Liverpool recently sparked Wenger into a deadline-day foray into the transfer market to sign Nacho Monreal from Malaga, a move that had Kieran Gibbs’ three-week absence in mind although the Spaniard will be ineligible for the forthcoming Champions League tie with Bayern Munich.
The versatile Thomas Vermaelen is also currently injured, leaving Arsenal short in the outgoing Brazilian’s position, a clear indication that Wenger’s faith in Santos has ceased.
Arsenal’s desperate last-ditch shopping spree on the summer deadline day of 2011, sparked by that horrific 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford, has largely been a success. Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker have established themselves in the first team while Yossi Benayoun enjoyed a productive loan spell, but Santos has endured has endured a torrid 18 months in North London in which he has started just 13 league matches.
The hapless 29 year old was signed from Fenerbahce for £6.2 million and despite making an immediate impact with a goal against Olympiakos in only his second appearance, it was his seventh, against Chelsea, that lingers as the clearest memory of the Brazilian’s eccentricity and lack of stability. He turned in an utterly abysmal first-half before emerging from the break to score an equaliser from nowhere, providing the catalyst for a 3-5 comeback win.
Santos was clearly not the left-back he was signed to be, but an erratic player of reckless abandon who could be good when flying forward but utterly woeful in defence.
His time in the Premier League has largely been ignominious and he will be remembered by the majority of Arsenal fans as a figure of derision, the most embarrassing memory being the bizarre request for Robin Van Persie’s shirt at half-time in the game against Manchester United having played poorly for the first 45 minutes.
The left-back did remain on to complete the full 90 minutes at Old Trafford, but the damage to his reputation was beyond repair; other than a dreadful FA Cup showing at Brighton in which he was hauled off after 78 minutes, and the dire time he had vs Jordan Henderson and Liverpool when replacing the injured Gibbs, he has been afforded just 31 minutes of football since that misguided November lunchtime.
Santos is a sure-fire addition to the list of failed Arsene Wenger signings that contains Sebastien Squillaci and Marouane Chamakh as currently on the books at the Emirates. Perhaps it could be Wenger’s track record of signing players of that ilk that went someway to Robin Van Persie aiming his “lack of ambition” jibe at the Gunners when he left for Manchester United last summer.
Acquisitions of Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud have proved successful so far, while Monreal showed enough promise in his debut at Sunderland on Saturday to suggest he will make a positive impact. However, Wenger’s fondness for a flawed, rushed purchase can be detrimental to his squad and extremely costly at a club that maintains a stringent eye on its finances.
There is no doubt that Santos’s opportunity for first team football back at Gremio will make this a sensible move for all parties, but there is a feeling the door is now well and truly closed at Arsenal for the 29 year old who never managed to adapt to the Premier League.
His time in England will be mocked by many, which is a shame for a Brazil international, though one will hope this feckless, good natured madcap, who was well-liked in the Arsenal dressing room, can prove he’s not all what the disastrous spell on these shores exposed him to be.
Written by Adam Gray
Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamGray1250
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