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Arsene is now the longest-standing manager in the Premier League.
When the studious Frenchman arrived in England in 1996 he stood out from the other, more contemporary managers, enough so that the British media soon dubbed him “Le Professeur”. It is a moniker that Wenger has certainly lived up to; back in 1996, his methods, which are now the stuff of legend, were seen by most as something of a fad that had drifted over from the continent, particularly the player diets.
However, the important part of what Wenger did was to introduce a policy of buying young, sometimes off-the-radar players for relatively small sums, and developing them quickly through trusting a large number of them with a first-team place. For the most part, the unknowns he has brought to Arsenal throughout his tenure have either gone on to be club legends with a decent rack of medals to their names, or were sold for a substantial profit.
In numbers, since Wenger arrived in north London, he has delivered three league titles, four FA Cups including two domestic doubles, and reached the Champions League final, all for a net spend of £10.8 million on player transfers.
This eye for a buy, with Arsenal being a club with somewhat limited funds at the time, was a major factor in the 1998 double-winning season, and many of the players also went on to be part of the 2003-4 “Invincibles” season.
Patrick Vieira, who was technically signed by Wenger’s predecessor Bruce Rioch, arrived for a fee of £3.5 million in 1996 and departed nine years and 279 appearances later for £13.75 million. Vieira attributed his arrival to knowing that Wenger would soon be managing at Arsenal.
Nicolas Anelka was signed at the tender age of 17 for £500,000 in 1997, and was sold on to Real Madrid two years later for £22.3 million, leaving Wenger with a domestic double, 28 goals to reflect upon and an impressive £21.8 million profit.
While his philosophy has been less successful on the pitch as of late—Arsenal’s last major trophy came in 2005, which could be in part attributed to the influx of rich investors bankrolling rival teams in recent years—it still yields good profits, and the finished products of Arsene’s work (the players) are usually highly sought after. Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and, at the time, Samir Nasri are a few recent examples.
Naturally, Wenger has faced criticism over the club’s perceived policy of maximising profits, but a slightly odd £40,000,001 bid for Luis Suarez this summer shows that, while the numbers don’t quite add up, at least there are signs of a willingness to spend where necessary.