Arsenal Transfers: Biggest Signings in Arsene Wenger's History as Manager
With the signing of Santi Cazorla completed, Arsenal fans are becoming more excited about the upcoming season.
The Cazorla signing, in fact, is being hailed as a pivotal one for Arsenal, even one of manager Arsene Wenger's best.
With that in mind, here is a list of Wenger's biggest signings for Arsenal. You'll know all of these names right away, and you'll probably know why they're considered big signings.
Have another? Leave a comment below.
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Why it was big: This list could only start here.
Simply put, Thierry Henry is one of Arsenal's all-time best players. His 228 goals are most in club history, and his talents helped raise the Gunners to new heights in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Before he arrived, however, Henry was a young winger who had mostly failed to live up to his potential. Under the guidance of Arsene Wenger, Henry became a superstar.
And Arsenal became England's top club for a time.
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Why it was big: Patrick Vieira's transfer was part of the deal that brought Arsene Wenger to North London.
In 1996, Vieira was a mostly unknown midfielder who had spent most of his time at AC Milan in the reserves. When he left North London in 2005, Vieira was known the world over as a top-class midfielder who could influence matches with skill, power and pure nastiness.
Vieira formed a stout central midfield partnership with fellow Frenchman Emmanuel Petit in his early days at Arsenal. In his latter days, he partnered with several others, but always served as an anchor for Wenger and the Gunners.
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Details: From Olympique Marseille for £5 million (The Guardian) in 2000
Why it was big: Marc Overmars had recently left Arsenal for Barcelona in a £25 million move. Arsene Wenger needed a wide midfield player who could provide the assists for Thierry Henry's scoring machine while adding a few goals of his own.
Enter Robert Pires, yet another Frenchman who helped shape Wenger's English Premier League revolution.
During the 2001-02 season, Pires led the Premiership in assists and helped Arsenal win the league and cup double. He missed the end of the campaign through injury, but was still named the writers' footballer of the year.
Arsenal experienced unprecedented success in the early 2000s, and though much of that had to do with the scoring of Henry, Pires' passing and deft touches played a starring role as well.
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Details: From Halmstads for £3 million (BBC Sport) in 1998
Why it was big: Arsene Wenger can't claim to have bought Dennis Bergkamp. The Dutch master joined in 1995 under then-manager Bruce Rioch.
Wenger can, however, boast of bringing in the Robin to Bergkamp's Batman.
That would be Freddie Ljungberg, the diminutive, funky-haired Swede who had an uncanny mental understanding with Bergkamp.
That seemingly extra-sensory connection proved immensely valuable during the 2001-02 stretch run, when the two combined for a string of vital goals.
For that reason alone, Ljungberg could make this list. Add in 71 goals during nine years of service, and this free spirited Swede must be considered one of Wenger's best signings.
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Details: From Barcelona as youth player (BBC Sport) in 2003
Why it was big: Arsene Wenger plucked Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas from obscurity in 2003. Instead of rotting in Barcelona's reserves, Cesc quickly found opportunities in Arsenal's first team.
From there, he flourished, becoming a world-class talent before moving back to Barcelona in 2011.
Along the way, Cesc became club captain in 2008 and earned an FA Cup winner's medal in 2005.
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Details: From Tottenham on a free transfer (The Guardian) in 2001
Why it was big: At the time, Sol Campbell was 26 and among the ranks of England's top defenders. Meanwhile, Arsenal's "famous four" defensive old guard of Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn, Lee Dixon and Steve Bould was only a memory.
In signing Campbell from under the noses of hated rivals Tottenham Hotspur no less, Arsenal shored up the defense ahead of the 2001-02 season—a campaign than ended in a domestic league and cup double.
Campbell partnered Adams and Martin Keown in central defense throughout that season, and his role in helping the Gunners to that double should not be understated.
Later, the partnership of Campbell and Kolo Toure provided the backbone for Arsenal's Invincibles team that went through the 2003-04 English Premier League season unbeaten.
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Here are seven more of Arsene Wenger's biggest signings at Arsenal:
Robin van Persie (from Feyenoord in 2004)
Nicolas Anelka (from Paris Saint-Germain in 1997)
Marc Overmars (from Ajax in 1997)
Sylvain Wiltord (from Bordeaux in 2000)
Jens Lehmann (from Borussia Dortmund in 2003)
Gilberto Silva (from Atletico Mineiro in 2002)
Emmanuel Petit (from Monaco in 1997)
Who would you add to the list? Who would you take off? Let me know in the comments section.