Fran Merida Profile
|Arsenal Career||2007 - 2010|
|Appearances||50 (41 starts, 9 as a sub)|
A creative, highly technical central or left-sided midfielder, Fran Merida spent four years at Arsenal after moving from Barcelona in the summer of 2006.
Like so many of the Club's young players, Fran made his first-team debut in the Carling Cup - in his case, a 2-0 win over Newcastle early in the 2007/08 campaign. Once the young Gunners had been knocked out at the Semi-Final stage he took the next step in his development - a loan move.
Fran spent four months at Real Sociedad in 2008, helping them maintain a promotion push until the end of the campaign. And there was good news when the Spaniard returned to England with a new contract waiting for him.
In 2008 Fran starred at the Uefa Under-19 Championships and was named in the tournament's Top 10 stars for the future. And he continued to make good progress in the season that followed, making five first-team appearances.
Three of those came in the Carling Cup but Fran also took his chance in the Premier League, making his top-flight debut at West Brom and coming off the bench again at Portsmouth.
In Autumn 2009 Merida was one of the stars of the Fifa Under-20 World Cup. The midfielder scored three goals in three games as Spain reached the Semi-Finals of the competition.
Back at Arsenal he made eight appearances in the first-team that season and netted his first Gunners goal, a stunning effort in a Carling Cup victory over Liverpool.
His first Premier League goal came in January of that season in an away win at Bolton but Merida failed to agree a new contract and left for Atletico Madrid at the end of the campaign.