Arsenal FC: Has Arsene Wenger Lost His Midas Touch in the Transfer Market?
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has built up a reputation as one of the shrewdest transfer-market operators, but has he lost his Midas touch?
This article will show you the unnecessary risks Le Professeur has taken in recent times and how stubborn he can be in attempting to vindicate his signings.
Please comment below with your views.
Arsene Wenger's Calculated Risks
Phil Cole/Getty Images
Before we venture into why Arsene Wenger has regressed in the transfer market (next slide), we have to establish his genius and how much influence he wielded.
Wenger at His Best
£25 million—the inflated amount Barcelona forked out for a 27-year-old Marc Overmars  (from BBC Sport).
£21.8 million—the profit Arsene made from Nicolas Anelka in 1999 , who was only a Gunner for two seasons and a half.
£11.5 million—the combined cost of Patrick Vieira, Gilberto Silva, Emmanuel Petit, Alex Song and Mathieu Flamini.
£7 million, free transfer, £150,000 and academy graduate—how Wenger constructed the Invincibles' back line (Lauren, Sol Campbell, Kolo Toure and Ashley Cole) .
Arsene's Calculated Risks
He turned rejects like Vieira (AC Milan) and Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona) into world-class footballers.
Did some left-field scouting by going into Sweden and plucking Freddie Ljungberg from Halmstads.
Ignored a major red flag in Thierry Henry's Serie A failure  and proceeded to not only spend a significant amount in bringing him to Highbury (£11 million; per BBC Sport), but changed the Frenchman into a No. 9.
Signed Robin van Persie—branded uncoachable during his spell with Feyenoord —for £2.75 million.
Blind faith is the phrase to describe Le Professeur waiting eons for RVP to finally put one great season together. He then sold him to Manchester United for £24 million after the Dutchman turned into Judas (from BBC Sport).
Bought Emmanuel Adebayor for £3 million, when he had scored four goals in 21 games for Monaco, and sold him for £25 million (to Manchester City) four seasons later.
 Converted to around €40.6 million for a player that didn't make one single PFA Team of the Year in three Premier League seasons. Wenger sold poor old Joan Gaspart a bill of goods.
 At the time, it was second-most expensive transfer in football history (from AFP via New Straits Times).
 £7.15 million for the Premier League's best defence. Manchester United bought Rio Ferdinand for £30 million (via BBC Sport).
 In an interview with FourFourTwo.com, Thierry claimed his form had nothing to do with his exit from the Bianconeri.
 Here are some brilliant quotes about a young, brash, misunderstood and troubled van Persie (compiled by The Telegraph's Oliver Brown):
Bob van Persie; Robin's dad: "When my wife and I divorced, he came to live with me until he was in his twenties. Until he turned 12, I had a hard time controlling him. But suddenly he turned positive. He found football as something to put his energy into."
Rik van der Donk; sports teacher: "Robin was a rascal. He always made a statement [i.e. Van Persie 2 PSV 0!] when he came into the classroom—teachers had difficulties with him."
Carlo de Leeuw; worked with RVP at Feyenoord: "The coach [Bert van Marwijk] asked him to warm up, but he replied, ‘No, I don’t want to’, or words to that effect. Then he was told to go away. He was that kind of player. You had to keep him short, you know what I mean?"
Martijn Krabbendam; football writer: "Van Hooijdonk [One of the world's most prolific forwards at the time] was not the type to be overruled, and I watched Robin push him away, thinking ‘What is he doing?’ He hit the bar with the free-kick, so you could say he was right. It showed character."
Krabbendam added: "He [Van Persie] was essentially a street kid talking to the coach [teammates, staff, media, etc.] like he was one of his friends. He didn’t always have the vocabulary to verbalise his feelings."
Arsene Wenger's Foolhardy Signings
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Arsene Wenger has always prided himself on economically efficient transfer signings.
All clubs have made bad signings, but there's this misconception that Wenger can do no wrong.
This slide will give you an idea how risky Arsene has been.
Per Mertesacker, CB, £8 million
With the benefit of hindsight, many writers (including me) turned a blind eye to Werder Bremen having the fourth-worst defensive record in the league.
The main school of thought was Sebastian Prodl, Petri Pasanen and Mikael Silvestre didn't belong on the same field as Mertesacker.
They were the ones making this esteemed German international look bad. Not to mention, Naldo was out injured.
Per's CV made it easy to applaud Wenger for signing such a high-quality centre-back—a few days removed from the Gunners' traumatic 8-2 humiliation to Manchester United.
Never have Kicker and Bild been so right (and prophetic for that matter).
Per is to Arsenal to what Laurent Blanc was to United—signed five years too late.
Is Mertesacker a flop? No. Will he be the old Mertesacker Wenger is hoping he'll be? No.
Francis Jeffers, CF, £8 million
According to Francis, he wasn't the "fox-in-the-box" forward Wenger thought he was getting (from Matt Law at Mirror Football):
There was all the fox-in-the-box stuff as well, which added more pressure.
I still don’t know why Arsène Wenger said that because my game was never just in the six-yard box, but it stuck and I still get it all the time now.
I cost them £8 million to sign and I must have cost them another £8 million in medical scans.
Sebastien Squillaci, CB, £6.5 million
He once made Mate Bilic look like Davor Suker when the Sporting Gijon forward netted three times in a 4-3 loss to Sevilla.
It wasn't just the error-prone displays but Squillaci had noted fitness problems.
The worst Brazilian I've ever seen play for the national team. Santos doesn't deserve to call himself a Selecao alumni.
What did Wenger see in Andre?
Park Chu-Young, CF, £5.5 million
If Park was signed to take advantage of the South Korean market, why wasn't he given an extended run?
He ruined his career by making a last-minute decision to ditch a proposed transfer with Lille to go gunning for glory.
Crashed and burned badly.
Arsene Wenger Is Stubborn to a Fault
Clive Mason/Getty Images
Arsene Wenger is hell-bent on vindicating his signings to the point where it damages the team.
If Kieran Gibbs didn't go down with injury, Wenger wouldn't have signed La Liga's second-best left-back in Nacho Monreal.
He should have been bought in the summer, but Wenger constantly gambled on an out-of-form and dim-witted Andre Santos.
Tell me what the most important attribute a goalkeeper must have? Consistency.
What do Wojciech Szczesny, Łukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone have in common? Inconsistency.
Why Wenger continues to shuffle the No. 1 role around the three is beyond me.
After the unparalleled success with changing the positions of Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie, Wenger can't help but tinker with the positions of his players.
Doesn't he see the complications of playing Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski away from their preferred central position?
Jan Vertonghen, who has been superb for Tottenham Hotspur, wasn't keen on switching positions and bailed on the Gunners (per The Telegraph):"Arsenal's interest was concrete, but they wanted me to be a controller in the midfield, an Emmanuel Petit-type. Ultimately, I just came to play at centre-back."
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Arsene Wenger dominated the footballing transfer market to the extent that he built himself up as the man with the Midas touch.
He is now slowly tearing down that the perception, except his mistakes aren't that bad when compared to his contemporaries.
Per Mertesacker, Francis Jeffers, Sebastien Squillaci, Andre Santos and Park Chu-Young combine for a total of £34.2 million.
Fernando Torres and Andriy Shevchenko cost Roman Abramovich £80.8 million.
What about Kaka for Real Madrid?
Zlatan Ibrahimovic for Barcelona?
How about the plethora of overvalued signings at Manchester City?
Also, most of Arsene's worst mistakes were 1) cheap and 2) below-par role players.
Sure, he isn't winning big in the transfer market like Porto or Benfica in recent memory.
But who do you think serves as a main reference point for both Portuguese sides?