Arsene Wenger has been in charge of Arsenal for 20 years. Here we countdown the best signings he has made.
10) Cesc Fabregas
Cesc Fabregas may not be the most popular player with Arsenal supporters today but he was undoubtedly an excellent signing by Arsene Wenger. Poached from the famed FC Barcelona La Masia academy at the age of 16, Fabregas went on to become a crucial player for The Gunners until his 2011 departure. The midfielder became a first team player at the age of 17 and eventually became club captain. Fabregas is remembered with bitterness by some Arsenal fans for the way he left the club but his ability on the pitch when he played for The Gunners cannot be questioned.
9) Mesut Özil
The only player on the list currently still playing for the club is Mesut Özil. The German is still the record transfer in the club’s history after the £42.5 million deal in 2013. The signing of Özil was a real game changer at the Emirates. After years of having to make-do with squad players and discount transfers, Wenger went out and spent big on one of the most outstanding players in world football. Özil continues to shine for the Gunners and has to be considered one of the best deals in Wenger’s reign.
8) Robin Van Persie
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Another player on the list who isn’t exactly beloved by the average Gooner is Robin Van Persie. The striker left the club for Manchester United in 2012 after an outstanding goalscoring season for the club. He went on to win the Premier League title at Old Trafford but saw his relationship with the Arsenal fans soured as a result. However the Dutchman was undoubtedly a quality signing from Arsene Wenger. Signed from Feyenoord for just £2.5 million, the forward went on to score over 130 goals for the club including 30 in 38 Premier League matches during his final year as club captain.
7) Nicolas Anelka
The classic go-to example of Wenger’s skill in the transfer market is Nicolas Anelka. The striker was relative unknown when he moved to Highbury in 1997. The Frenchman spent three seasons at Arsenal, breaking into the first team at the age of 18 and scoring 17 goals in 35 Premier League matches in his final year. The £500,000 signing was sold to Real Madrid for over £22 million and Wenger used the proceeds to upgrade the club’s training ground.
6) Marc Overmars
The signing of Marc Overmars breathed a new lease of life into the Arsenal attack. The winger was signed for around £5 million from Ajax in 1997 and went on to become a key player for the Gunners during the successful seasons which followed. The Dutchman spent three years at Highbury but his best spell was undoubtedly his first season at the club. Overmars scored 12 Premier League goals in his 32 matches that year, helping the Gunners to the Premier League and FA Cup double.
5) Kolo Toure
The story goes that Kolo Toure nearly injured Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry and Arsene Wenger on the first day of his trial at Arsenal. Toure was in tears because he thought he had lost his chance of moving to Highbury but Wenger signed the player up immediately, citing his “passion”. The Ivorian went on to become a crucial player for the Gunners during the Invincibles season. Toure spent seven seasons with the Gunners before his £14 million departure for Manchester City in 2009. Not bad for a £150,000 signing.
4) Sol Campbell
It was one of the most controversial transfers in the history of the Premier League but as far as Arsenal were concerned, it was one of the sweetest. Sol Campbell had spent over a decade at Tottenham Hotspur. The centre backs rose through the ranks from youth player to first team captain. In 2001 his contract expired and Campbell made the audacious decision to move to North London rivals Arsenal. He became a key player at Highbury, helping the club to two Premier League titles and three FA Cups. Campbell would’ve been a great signing for the Gunners even if he wasn’t brought in from Spurs.
3) Robert Pires
He was named as one of the greatest players in the club’s history so it’s only fair that he’s called one of Arsene Wenger’s best signings. The Frenchman was one of the most threatening attacking players in an Arsenal side which wasn’t exactly shy in front of goal. Pires was a unique player, a goalscoring winger who slightly lacked pace but possessed incredible ability on the ball. He enjoyed incredible success at Highbury, winning two Premier League titles and three FA Cups with the club.
2) Patrick Vieira
Few signings have had as big an impact on the Arsenal team in recent decades as Patrick Vieira did. The Frenchman was signed in the summer of 1996 – a few months before Arsene Wenger was officially announced as Gunners boss. However Vieira’s signing was undoubtedly the work of Arsene Wenger. The midfielder brought a remarkable physicality to the team as well as gifted ability on the ball. He drove the Arsenal team and was named club captain in 2002, helping the side to another wave of success. He was the man to first lift the Premier League trophy during the Invincibles season and will always be remembered fondly by Arsenal fans.
1) Thierry Henry
It had to be Thierry. The Frenchman was signed by Arsene Wenger in 1999 for a fee of around £11 million. Henry famously started life in England as a winger but was converted into a centre forward by Arsene Wenger and club certainly benefitted. Henry is the top scorer in the club’s history, encased in bronze outside the Emirates and was voted as the club’s greatest ever player in a recent poll. Pretty good signing, then.