The Rundown

Arsene Wenger’s 10 best signings: Henry, Fabregas, Anelka…

The Rundown

Arsene Wenger has signed more than 100 players at a cost of over £400 million during his 18 seasons with the Premier League club.

Here, in reverse order, are the 10 best:


View gallery


10-Aaron Ramsey, £4.8m from Cardiff, June 2008

A lone representative from the current squad on this list. Wenger beat Sir Alex Ferguson to Ramsey's signature. After a slow and injury-hit start, Ramsey is becoming a formidable all-round midfielder.

View gallery


9-Robin van Persie, £2.75m from Feyenoord, May 2004

The only player on this list assured of a hostile welcome on his next visit to the Emirates, Van Persie was nonetheless a relentless goalscorer, netting 132 times in 277 games before joining Manchester United.

View gallery


8-Marc Overmars, £6m from Ajax, June 1997

Overmars's first season alone earns him legendary status. The Dutchman hit the winner at Old Trafford - a result that propelled Arsenal towards the title - then scored in the FA Cup final.

View gallery


7-Fredrik Ljungberg, £3m from Halmstads, 1998

A master of perfectly-timed runs into the box and beneficiary of Dennis Bergkamp's assists, the Swede peaked in spring 2002, when a run of seven goals in eight games powered Arsenal to their second double in four years.

View gallery


6-Nicolas Anelka, £500,000 from Paris Saint-Germain, February 1997

Arsenal never quite saw the best of Anelka, but a £22m profit in two years and a key role in the 1997/98 Double-winning side make him a worthy inclusion in the top 10.

View gallery


5-Robert Pires, £6m from Marseille, July 2000

Wenger's third Musketeer alongside Vieira and Henry, Pires blossomed after an indifferent first season to win the Football Writers' Player of the Year award in 2002. Scored 84 goals in six seasons.

View gallery


4-Cesc Fabregas, £500,000 from Barcelona, September 2003

A figurative - and literal if you listen to Barca fans - steal from the Catalan giants, Fabregas matured into one of the world's best midfielders before returning to the Camp Nou for £35 million in 2011.

3. Sol Campbell, free transfer from Tottenham, July 2001

Campbell was a revered pillar in the Tottenham backline and his dominant displays had made him an England regular.

So Wenger's ability to pinch their arch rivals' greatest asset for free was arguably his greatest transfer feat.

Campbell, whose contract had run down, made the shock announcement that he was joining Spurs' loathed rivals at a news conference.

Some journalists had arrived expecting Wenger to announce a deal for goalkeeper Richard Wright only to be greeted by Campbell.

The defender won the double in his first season at Arsenal and then helped the Invincibles win the title in 2004 at Spurs, whose supporters labelled him 'Judas' for making the move.

He was a central figure in Arsenal's run to the final of the 2005/06 Champions League but suffered personal problems during the campaign.

He left the stadium at half-time of a league match against West Ham United after asking to be substituted but returned weeks later to score for Arsenal in their first Champions League final which they lost 2-1 to Barcelona.

View gallery


2. Thierry Henry, £10.5 million from Juventus, August 1999

Eight games had gone by without Henry scoring with fans questioning his arrival before the young Frenchman came off the bench to replace Nwankwo Kanu and notch a curling right-footed winner from 25 metres at Southampton - the first of 228 goals he would score for Arsenal.

Many of those goals came from Henry pulling away to the left of the pitch and using his searing pace to get in behind defences as his talents and animated personality on the field helped endear him to fans upset at the loss of Nicolas Anelka.

Henry was at his prime during the Invincibles campaign, where he had risen to become the team's penalty taker and set-piece specialist. He was routinely Premier League top scorer and considered one of the best strikers in the world.

He assumed the captaincy upon Vieira's departure, but could not add to his two League titles and three FA Cups as Arsenal lost the Champions League final in 2006 to Barcelona, the club he joined a year later.

He returned to Arsenal for a brief cameo in January 2012 on loan from New York Red Bulls, scoring a last minute winner against Sunderland in his final Premier League appearance, adding to his elevated status at the club.

1. Patrick Vieira, £3.5 million from AC Milan, August 1996

Wenger only joined the club in September 1996 but he had already begun recruiting players and his first set the tone for a decade of success.

On August 14, Vieira joined Arsenal, along with compatriot Remi Garde, to zero fanfare with little known about the gangly, young Frenchman born in Senegal and who had barely featured for AC Milan in his one season in Italy.

However, he quickly demonstrated his powerful, box-to-box abilities and he flourished in the centre of the midfield before reaching new heights with the arrival of compatriot Emmanuel Petit the following season.

A creative midfielder who could score goals as well as break up play, he succeeded Tony Adams as the club's captain and skippered 'The Invincibles' side to the Premier League title by going undefeated in the 2003-04 season.

Having been linked with numerous clubs, he eventually left Arsenal after nine years, 406 appearances, 33 goals, three league titles and four FA Cups.

His final act was to score the winning penalty in the 2005 FA Cup shootout victory over Manchester United - Arsenal's last trophy.




View comments (21)