Arsene Wenger's top 10 Arsenal signings
By Jeremy Wilson | The Daily Telegraph | Published: 03rd October 2013 10:00 PM |
10. Mikel Arteta
Bought from Everton for £10 million in 2011
There are good reasons to argue that the likes of Emmanuel Petit or Freddie Ljungberg should be included on this list ahead of Arteta but they were very different signings in being additional components to already great teams. Arteta might have been bought at a premium price for a 29-year-old but his influence both on the pitch and in the dressing-room has, at times, been the glue that has held Arsenal together during the most difficult transitional two seasons of Arsène Wenger’s entire 17 years as manager.
9. Cesc Fabregas
Bought from Barcelona for compensation fee of £500,000 in 2003 and sold back to Barcelona in 2011 for £35 million
Wenger will always feel slightly scarred by his failure to keep Fabregas just as he was entering the very peak years of his career but, in terms of the pure economics, he has never extracted more value from a deal. Was signed from Barcelona’s academy at the age of just 16 and went on to play 303 times for Arsenal before being sold back to Barca for 70 times more than Wenger originally paid.
8. Robin van Persie
Bought from Feyenoord in 2004 for £2.5 million. Sold to Manchester United in 2012 for £24 million
The very best Wenger signings are those who have given their best years to Arsenal and also been sold at a huge profit. Time will tell on the first point, although Van Persie is still unlikely to ever repeat his golden 17 month period at Arsenal from January 2011 until May 2012 when he scored 59 goals. A fee of £24 million may also still prove to be good business for a 29-year-old in the final season of his contract.
7. Sol Campbell
Free transfer from Tottenham in 2001. Left on a free transfer to Portsmouth in 2006
Also returned for a second spell in 2010 but it was this first period when Campbell achieved greatness as an Arsenal player. Arrived for nothing from Arsenal’s most bitter rivals and went on to be the defensive rock of a team that won three FA Cups and two Premier League titles, including going the entire 2003-4 season undefeated.
6. Robert Pires
Bought from Marseille in 2000 for £6 million and left on a free transfer to Villarreal in 2006.
Not higher on the list simply because he was bought for a significant fee and eventually left on a free transfer but still a fabulous signing for what he produced during six memorable years at Arsenal. Was also an amazing value replacement for Marc Overmars who was sold that same summer by Wenger for £25 million. Rated sixth on the all-time list of Arsenal’s greatest ever players.
5. Nicolas Anelka
Bought from Paris St Germain in 1997 for £500,000. Sold to Real Madrid for £22.5 million in 1999
Anelka’s Arsenal years were short but very sweet. He was completely unknown when he arrived as a 17-year-old in 1997 but, in tandem with Dennis Bergkamp, was the attacking inspiration behind the first Premier League/FA Cup double of 1998. After just two seasons at Arsenal he was then sold to Real Madrid at an extraordinary profit. It is doubtful, though, whether he ever played better in his entire career than his 28 months at Arsenal.
4. Kolo Touré
Bought from ASEC Mimosas for £150,000 in 2001. Sold to Manchester City for £16 million in 2009
Another who not only played for Arsenal during the peak of his career but was also sold at a massive profit to Manchester City. Totally unknown when he arrived from the Ivory Coast in 2002 but went on to play more than 300 times for Arsenal, including the ‘Invincible’ season of 2003-4. Wenger’s biggest regret might be not also buying his brother when he had the chance.
3. Marc Overmars
Bought from Ajax for £5.5 million in 1997 and sold to Barcelona in 2000 for £25 million
Another who generated a fabulous profit having also probably produced the best years of his career for Arsenal. Was superb during the double-winning season of 1998 and never again reached those heights at Barcelona. The sale, though, still allowed Wenger to buy a better player in Pires for just £6 million and make a £13.5 million profit.
2. Patrick Vieira
Bought for £3.5 million from AC Milan in 1996. Sold to Juventus for £13.5 million in 2006.
Arsenal’s leader and midfield driving force during the greatest years of Wenger’s reign. Was his first major signing upon becoming manager in 1996 and arguably also his most influential. Vieira was part of all seven of Wenger’s trophy-winning teams and was also somehow still sold for a handsome profit in 2006 to Juventus when his best were behind him.
1. Thierry Henry
Bought from Juventus in 1999 for £11 million. Sold to Barcelona in 2007 for £16 million.
Arrived as a left winger but transformed under Wenger into the best player in the Premier League and arguably the finest centre-forward in Europe. Was to become Arsenal’s all-time record goalscorer and, by common consent, their greatest ever player. Remained an exceptional player at Barcelona but his finest years were still at Arsenal and he was also sold for a profit.