Gnabry back to Arsenal? Eight players starring abroad who deserve another shot in the Premier League

·7-min read
Pedro Goncalves, Fikayo Tomori and Serge Gnabry Credit: Alamy
Pedro Goncalves, Fikayo Tomori and Serge Gnabry Credit: Alamy

The summer transfer window is fast approaching and it is anyone’s guess how Liverpool will rebuild their midfield, how Newcastle will recruit for their return to the Champions League, and how Arsenal will build on their inevitable second-place finish.

If you are a Premier League manager and reading this as a part of your recruitment process, here are eight players who have previously played in England you should bring back.

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Players like Jeremie Frimpong and Jamal Musiala will not be included as they never actually made a senior appearance for Manchester City or Chelsea, respectively.


Pedro Goncalves (Sporting)
This guy couldn’t get a look in at Wolves after they signed him from Valencia when he was 19 years old back in 2017. Pedro Goncalves is now one of the best players in the world playing outside the so-called top five European leagues.

Goncalves made one appearance for the Premier League club, featuring for 28 minutes in a League Cup clash against Sheffield Wednesday in the 2018-19 campaign. It is safe to say Wolves fumbled the bag. Sold to Famalicao for a measly €1.3million in 2019, the Portuguese international has gone on to prove his worth in his home country. A successful season with Famalicao earned Goncalves a €6.5m move to Sporting – for whom he has scored 58 goals and provided 31 assists in 124 appearances. Those are similar numbers to Bruno Fernandes before he left the Liga Portugal giants for Manchester United in 2020.

Thirty-two goal contributions in 46 matches this term means there is a lot of interest in Goncalves. Aston Villa and Tottenham are keen – and it would be fun to see him given a fair crack at the whip in England. How much the 24-year-old is expected to be worth to Sporting this summer is anyone’s guess, however. €40m has been thrown around a bit, but that seems too cheap, while he has an €80m release clause, which is more realistic in this day and age.


Matteo Guendouzi (Marseille)
French international midfielder Matteo Guendouzi clearly has a lot of talent. It is his poor attitude and short temper that ultimately cost him at Arsenal.

Since leaving the Emirates for Marseille in 2021, Guendouzi has (probably) matured and could well be worth a punt once again. An immense 21-22 campaign made his €11m transfer fee make Arsenal look like absolute rookies and it is not as if that season was a one-off for the 24-year-old.

Admittedly, the Frenchman is not contributing to as many goals as he was last year, but he is still doing his bit defensively and remains a very good player on the ball. Like Goncalves, Guendouzi has been linked with a move to Villa Park – where he would reunite with ex-Arsenal boss Unai Emery – who was not the man to ditch him. That was Mikel Arteta.


Fikayo Tomori (AC Milan)
Having shone for Italian champions and now Champions League semi-finalists AC Milan, Fikayo Tomori would cost an absolute fortune if he is to return to his home country. Saying that, it feels inevitable. It’s going to be Chelsea isn’t it? Re-signing their academy graduate for £100m would be so Todd Boehly.

Last season in particular was a brilliant one for Tomori. He hasn’t been at his best this time around, but he has still found himself preparing for a Champions League semi-final against arch-rivals Inter Milan. That sounds surreal.

Comfortable on the ball and strong defensively, the 25-year-old really is an ideal modern-day central defender. His statistics are stellar but not extraordinary, which is better than what you can say about Harry Maguire – who remains ahead of Tomori in Gareth Southgate’s England pecking order.

Tomori was initially loaned out to Milan for the second half of 20-21 before joining from Chelsea for around £25m.

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy


Mikel Merino (Real Sociedad)
Mikel Merino spent the 17-18 season on loan with Newcastle and did not make a lasting impression on Premier League fans, although he was well-liked by the Toon Army. Since joining Real Sociedad after that year at St James’ Park, the Spanish playmaker has dramatically improved and has been linked with Liverpool and Manchester City over the last year.

Very tidy on the ball, Merino also excels at doing the dirty work very well. He is a demon in the air, can put in a tackle, and is very forward-thinking. Stats tell you that he is better defensively than he is in possession and it is clear to see that he is suited for Our League. A return to Newcastle could be a great shout.


Konstantinos Mavropanos (Stuttgart)
Arsenal never really gave Konstantinos Mavropanos a fair shot. During his four years as a Gunners, he made eight first-team appearances and was sold for a measly £4.5m. Stuttgart avoided relegation from the Bundesliga by the skin of their teeth last season and were able to complete the signing after the Greek centre-back’s two-year loan spell. Given the fact he was valued at £15m by Transfermarkt at the time, Arsenal fans were not best pleased by yet another pathetic transfer fee received for one of their players.

Mavropanos is enjoying another great season as Stuttgart struggle in the German top flight. He was linked with West Ham last summer, and the Hammers could reignite their interest should the German side go down. Mavropanos’ statistics on fbref are an absolute joke. Stats are obviously not everything, but they do tell a large part of the story, and if these are anything to go by, a Premier League team has to sign him.


Vitinha (Paris Saint-Germain)
It’s time for another Wolves f**k up. Vitinha might have only spent a single season on loan at Molineux, but they did have the option to buy him permanently for £17m. In fairness, they did not see enough to justify making the signing and it is only with the benefit of hindsight that they will be full of regret.

Vitinha only played 22 times for Wolves, scoring one and assisting one, joining PSG for around £35m a year after his loan came to an end. The 23-year-old has already played 42 times in his first season in the French capital, although he has again only found the back of the net once. He is a tidy player at a toxic club and should give the Premier League another go.


Tammy Abraham (Roma)
After touching on Tomori, it is time to look at another former Chelsea youngster who made the move to Italy, where they have both enjoyed the best football of their career.

Tammy Abraham did enough to stay at Chelsea. He would start for them now, there is no doubt about that. However, he was sold to Roma because the Blues wanted to re-sign Romelu Lukaku. That went well, didn’t it?

After an epic debut season in Rome, Abraham has been linked with Man Utd, Chelsea, Aston Villa and Arsenal and a return to England seems like it is bound to happen eventually. Eight goals in 44 matches this season is a pretty poor return, especially considering that he scored 27 times last term. Having said that, he is still a terrific all-round striker and one that would be an asset for anyone in the Premier League.


Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich)
There are some rumours that Serge Gnabry could be sold by Bayern Munich in the summer transfer window. We hope they become a reality.

Should Gnabry be available this summer, it would be hard to see him return to England for anyone other than Arsenal. Is this me crying out for the Gunners to bring him back to north London? Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t.

In 213 appearances for Bayern, the 27-year-old has scored 76 goals and provided 50 assists, whilst notching an impressive 22 goals in 41 caps for Germany. He is a player who can play through the middle or on either flank and would vastly improve any frontline in England.

If Gnabry is in a similar situation to Cesc Fabregas before joining Chelsea, it will be interesting to see if he caves and joins a rival of Arsenal with Mikel Arteta not interested, or if he simply plays abroad. Real Madrid, Barcelona, PSG or Borussia Dortmund surely wouldn’t say no.

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