When discussing Arsenal, many will jump to the fact that they quite possibly achieved one of the best feats in Premier League history – of course, the 2003-04 season and a small part of the following campaign where Arsene Wenger’s side went unbeaten for 49 games. 50 would have sounded nicer though, right?
There were a number of legendary figures gracing the Highbury turf during those memorable ‘invincible’ years, with the likes of Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp all playing key roles. However, remember Jose Antonio Reyes? Yeah, he was part of that squad as well.
The Spaniard arrived from Sevilla as a 20-year-old in a deal believed to have totalled around £18million and immediately looked to make a name for himself in English football – although he would have wanted it to have started in a different way.
In just his second match for the Gunners, Reyes netted an own goal against Middlesbrough in the League Cup, knocking his own side out of the competition in the semi-final. However, he made amends by hitting a brace against Chelsea in the FA Cup whilst finding the net against Inter Milan in the Champions League before scoring in the Premier League’s final two matches to help the club keep their unbeaten run going.
He showed what he could do at the start of the 04/05 campaign by proving to be lethal in the first six matches of the season – netting in each of them. However, that was the best it got for him as he struggled with inconsistency and things really started to go downhill for him from then on.
In 2005, Reyes made the gaffe of believing he was on the phone to Real Madrid’s director of football, Emilio Butragueno, which turned out to be a prank call from Spanish radio station Cadena COPE and appeared to alienate everyone at Arsenal by suggesting there were “bad people” at the club.
Wenger came to the young Spaniard’s defence and suggested it was an ‘easy trick’ that was played on a player who was rather vulnerable at the time because of his form.
Despite appearing to want to move away, he signed a new six-year contract with Arsenal in the summer of 2005 and had stated that he was “looking forward to having many more successful years at the club.”
However, that was short-lived as he continued to struggle in England and subsequently got the move to Real Madrid he had dreamed of in 2006 by signing a temporary deal, before joining rivals Atletico Madrid on a permanent switch in 2007.
Spells at Benfica, Sevilla, Espanyol, Cordoba and Xinjiang Tianshan Leopard (in China) followed, however, Reyes is now playing his football back in Spain – in the Segunda Divison with struggling Extremadura UD as they fight to remain in the competition.
For someone that had so much expectation, it would appear things really did not pan out for the former Spain international and he is now playing with those “bad people” he did not want to be with 15 years or so ago.
Arsenal fans, what do you make of Reyes’ downfall? Disappointed with how things turned out or did you not expect too much from him? Join in with the discussion below by sharing your thoughts with us.
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