Arsene Wenger has been known to make the shrewdest signings in the transfer market during his tenure at Arsenal.
It is also notable that great players such as Lilian Thuram were given their first chance in football by Arsene Wenger during his time at Monaco.
Here's my pick of his top ten transfers (Arsenal-centric, of course):
1. Thierry Henry. Who else? He was the Gunners' talisman for most of his career at Arsenal. Brought in as a left-winger, Thierry Henry was converted into a striker by Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. He went on to beat Ian Wright's record of 185 goals which immortalised him in the eyes of many Arsenal fans.
Cost: 10.5 million pounds.
2. Patrick Vieira. Before Arsene Wenger joined Arsenal, he insisted that Arsenal sign a young defense minded player from A.C. Milan—that player turned out to be Patrick Vieira. He was a leader on the pitch and always gave his heart and soul to the team. A fabulous signing without a doubt, Patrick Vieira is now a model defensive midfielder to many in the World.
Cost: 3.5 million pounds.
3. Robert Pires. One of my favourite players, and without a doubt, many other Arsenal fans' favourite player—Robert Pires was brought in from Marseille after the departure of Marc Overmars. He filled those big shoes and even exceeded his predecessor's achievements. His partnership with Freddie Ljungberg took Arsenal to great heights in the new Millennium. A superb passer, a wonderful goalscorer and definitely one of Arsenal's greats.
Cost: 7 million pounds.
4. Marc Overmars. The flying Dutchman was brought in from obscurity from Ajax in 1997. He made an immediate impact at Arsenal and was popularly known as "the right footed left-winger." He was sold for a whopping 25 million pounds and was one of Wenger's best ever signings.
Cost: 6 million pounds.
5. George Weah. George Weah was one of the most talented African players ever. Arsene Wenger brought him to AS Monaco as a youngster. He set the trend for many Africans to follow in Europe. It is no coincidence that Wenger brought in George Weah as he has very good connections all over Africa. Definitely an African legend, but for his time at Monaco, figures fifth on the list.
6. Cesc Fabregas. What do I say about Cesc Fabregas? Up and coming midfield general—has got the vision and the creativity that very few have at his age. At just twenty-one years of age, Cesc has the world of football at his feet. Signed from F.C. Barcelona, Fabregas stepped into the void left by Patrick Vieira and is now one of the heroes at Arsenal.
Cost: Free (It is believed that Giovanni Van Bronkhorst left Arsenal in exchange for Fabregas).
7. Kolo Toure. The strong, athletic centre-back was signed by Wenger as a utility player in 2002. Starting off as a right-sided player, "King Kolo" was shifted into a central defense role to partner Sol Campbell and was an integral part of the "Invincibles" team of the 2003/04 season. He's still one of the very few remaining from that team to date at Arsenal.
Cost: 150 thousand pounds.
8. Fredrik Ljungberg. Freddie Ljungberg moved to Arsenal from Halmstads in 1998. Arsene Wenger famously authorised his signing after watching tapes of Ljungberg's performances over time. On his debut, he scored a goal against Manchester United. Freddie had nine wonderful seasons at Arsenal, although the last few were blighted with injuries. He was a free scoring winger in his prime—his strength being the diagonal runs that he made to beat the offside trap of any defense.
Cost: 3 million pounds.
9. Emmanuel Petit. An understated midfielder, Emmanuel Petit was signed from Monaco as a centre-back but was duly converted into a holding midfielder to partner Patrick Vieira. This partnership proved to be fruitful for Arsenal and many of the Arsenal fans consider this partnership to be the best that they have had since Wenger arrived.
Cost: 3.5 million pounds.
10. Nicolas Anelka. The player who could never realise his potential due to bad decisions figures last on this list. He made a very poor decision to leave Arsenal for Real Madrid after two good seasons and since then, has been a nomad in terms of moving from one club to another. His transfer proceeds (22.5 million pounds), from his transfer to Real Madrid are said to have contributed to the construction of Arsenal's training facilities at London Colney—which shows Wenger's prudence even more.
Cost : 500 thousand pounds
Who do you think are Wenger's "Top Ten?"