Ranking All 31 of Arsene Wenger's French Signings Before Alexandre Lacazette

James McNicholas@@jamesmcnicholasFeatured ColumnistJuly 14, 2017

Alexandre Lacazette in pre-season action for Arsenal.
Alexandre Lacazette in pre-season action for Arsenal.Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Alexandre Lacazette's record-breaking transfer has made him the 32nd French player to join Arsenal under manager Arsene Wenger.  

While Gunners fans wait to see if he becomes the next Thierry Henry or another Yaya Sanogo, Bleacher Report has decided to rank Wenger's previous 31 French signings.

The players are assessed on their value for money and the strength of their sustained contribution to the Arsenal cause. Read on to begin the countdown.

                 

31. Guillaume Norbert

Guillaume Norbert is arguably the lowest-profile French signing of Wenger's two-decade reign. The midfielder spent four years in the academy without troubling the first team.

                

30. Yassin Fortune 

A native of the same Parisian suburb as Abou Diaby, Yassin Fortune joined the club from RC Lens in the summer of 2015. He has yet to make a mark on the senior team and may have to move elsewhere to continue his development.

              

29. David Grondin

Between 1998 and 2003, David Grondin made four appearances for Arsenal. The left-back then went on to have a journeyman career, with spells at Dunfermline Athletic, Stade Brest and KV Mechelen.

                  

28. Guillaume Warmuz 

Guillaume Warmuz was seemingly a very capable goalkeeper—but one who never played for the Arsenal first team. Signed as a replacement for the injured Rami Shaaban in 2003, he spent just six months with the club before joining Borussia Dortmund on a free transfer.

    

Gilles Sunu celebrates in the FA Youth Cup final.
Gilles Sunu celebrates in the FA Youth Cup final.Julian Finney/Getty Images

27. Gilles Sunu

The last time Gilles Sunu was involved in the Arsenal squad was in the fateful 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford. Shortly after that, he moved to FC Lorient. After a brief spell with Evian, he now plays for Ligue 1 side SCO Angers.

                

26. Armand Traore

At one stage, it appeared Armand Traore had the potential to be the next great Arsenal left-back. He was powerful, had lightning-quick speed and possessed a cannon of a left foot. However, unfortunately for a defender, he couldn't defend. His part in the 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford will live painfully long in the memory. 

                

25. Remi Garde 

Wenger's first French signing was Remi Garde—a utility player who began a Francophone revolution at Highbury. He didn't make much impression on the field, but he was a vital part of the cultural shift the manager implemented. 

                

24. Mikael Silvestre 

When Sir Alex Ferguson consented to sell Mikael Silvestre to Arsenal from Manchester United, Wenger should have smelled a rat. By the time he arrived in north London, he was well past his best.

            

23. Yaya Sanogo 

Wenger loves to gamble on young talent—and sometimes those gambles backfire. So it proved in the case of Yaya Sanogo, who arrived with a glowing reputation but a dreadful injury record. In the end, he couldn't stay fit long enough to develop into a credible centre-forward and was released in June.

              

22. Sebastien Squillaci

A physically imposing and vastly experienced France international, Sebastien Squillaci ought to have had everything required to be a success at Arsenal. Unfortunately, it just didn't work out for him in England, and after a series of disastrous displays, he was confined to the reserves.

    

Mathieu Debuchy is surely headed for the exit at Arsenal.
Mathieu Debuchy is surely headed for the exit at Arsenal.Dan Mullan/Getty Images

21. Mathieu Debuchy

Mathieu Debuchy is one of only a handful of players on this list to have been signed from another Premier League club. He was acquired from Newcastle United as a replacement for Bacary Sagna, but a succession of injury problems and the emergence of Hector Bellerin meant he was never able to establish himself in the role. He's still on the books at Arsenal, but it's surely a matter of time until he leaves for good.

              

20. Jeremie Aliadiere

At one time, Jeremie Aliadiere was regarded as a prospect to rival the likes of Thierry Henry and Nicolas Anelka. Unfortunately, that potential largely went unfulfilled. However, he is still playing and is stationed with Ligue 2 side Lorient.

              

19. Gilles Grimandi 

A utility man with a love for a crunching tackle, Gilles Grimandi was an early Wenger signing from the manager's former club, AS Monaco. Grimandi is still associated with Arsenal—he now works in their scouting department.

             

18. Pascal Cygan

Former Lille OSC central defender Pascal Cygan is frequently cited as one of Wenger's less successful defensive acquisitions. However, it's worth remembering he played relatively frequently during Arsenal's fabled "Invincibles" campaign. Although slow, he was good on the ball and strong in the air.

                

17. Jeff Reine-Adelaide

The early evidence suggests that Jeff Reine-Adelaide could become a star for Arsenal. The tall, technically gifted midfielder looks like an archetypal Wenger signing. After a few impressive cameos in 2016/17, he will be looking to make a major impression next season.

    

Lassana Diarra was only with Arsenal for a few months before joining Portsmouth.
Lassana Diarra was only with Arsenal for a few months before joining Portsmouth.ANDREW YATES/Getty Images

16. Lassana Diarra

Signing Lassana Diarra from Chelsea was an incredibly smart piece of business from Wenger. Unfortunately, Arsenal could not offer Diarra the first-team football he wanted, and he ended up leaving after just a few months. A career including a successful spell at Real Madrid suggests Wenger was nevertheless right to buy him in the first place. 

               

15. William Gallas

When Wenger swapped Ashley Cole for Chelsea's William Gallas, he thought he was acquiring an outstanding central defender. However, Gallas struggled to replicate his Stamford Bridge performances in a Gunners shirt and endured an ill-fated spell as club captain before leaving on a free transfer.

                

14. Francis Coquelin

Tigerish midfielder Francis Coquelin appeared to be headed for the exit at Arsenal when he was loaned to Charlton Athletic in the winter of 2014. However, an injury crisis handed him his chance, and he seized it to become a valued part of Wenger's current squad.

                

13. Mathieu Flamini

Along with a certain fleet-footed goalscorer, Mathieu Flamini is one of two players on this list to have signed for Wenger's Arsenal twice. Flamini is hardly the most skilful player on this list, but his commitment was never in question.

    

Injuries prevented Abou Diaby from fulfilling his potential.
Injuries prevented Abou Diaby from fulfilling his potential.Julian Finney/Getty Images

12. Abou Diaby 

Arsenal fans must look at Abou Diaby and wonder what might have been. Had it not been for former Sunderland man Dan Smith's terrible lunge at his ankle, he might have developed into one of the continent’s finest central-midfield players.

He had it all—skill, power, imagination. Unfortunately, injury severely limited his contribution to the Arsenal cause. Nevertheless, he was a smart signing and a victory for the Gunners' scouting department.

             

11. Samir Nasri

Signed from Marseille in 2008, Samir Nasri was an audacious young talent who combined brilliantly with the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie. Unfortunately, his best season in 2010/11 was followed immediately by an acrimonious departure to Manchester City, effectively spoiling his legacy.

               

10. Gael Clichy

Gael Clichy arrived at Arsenal as an unknown teenager, and he was eventually so convincing in the left-back role that he was chosen to succeed the brilliant Ashley Cole. In the end, Clichy joined Nasri at Manchester City—but not before picking up a Premier League and FA Cup medal in Arsenal colours.

                     

9. Olivier Giroud

It may surprise some to see Olivier Giroud figure so high on this list. His five years at Arsenal have seen him routinely criticised by fans, who have yearned for a more dynamic striker to spearhead the attack. Nevertheless, 98 goals for the Gunners suggest he has been a useful servant—and a bargain, too.

    

Sylvain Wiltord won two league titles with Arsenal.
Sylvain Wiltord won two league titles with Arsenal.Clive Mason/Getty Images

8. Sylvain Wiltord

Although never quite a first-choice player at Arsenal, Sylvain Wiltord was nevertheless part of the double win of 2001/02 and the unbeaten league campaign of 2003/04. He will be particularly remembered for netting the winning goal at Old Trafford in 2002—the game that clinched the title.

           

7. Nicolas Anelka

In terms of pure talent, Nicolas Anelka should figure even higher on this list. In the 1990s, arguably only the Brazilian Ronaldo matched him when it came to irrepressible teenage talent. Unfortunately, he didn't quite have the character to match his ability and left Arsenal far too soon. 

               

6. Bacary Sagna

It's a sad fact that Bacary Sagna's seven years with Arsenal yielded just one competitive trophy. He deserved far better—in that period, there were not many more consistent defenders in the English game. At the time he was signed, Emmanuel Eboue appeared to have the right-back spot sewn up, but Sagna proved himself to be a major upgrade.

                

5. Emmanuel Petit

While Patrick Vieira is understandably the most celebrated central midfielder of Wenger's early years, it was his partnership with Emmanuel Petit that provided him with the platform to perform. Petit was a tough tackler and a terrific passer—the complete Premier League midfielder.

    

Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny have enjoyed a great relationship at both Arsenal and France.
Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny have enjoyed a great relationship at both Arsenal and France.Ian Walton/Getty Images

4. Laurent Koscielny 

Centre-half Laurent Koscielny is the highest-ranking player on this list never to have won the Premier League title with Arsenal. That speaks to his enormous individual quality. He was relatively unheard of on these shores when he arrived from Lorient, but he has established himself as one of Europe’s finest central defenders.

             

3.  Robert Pires

Graceful winger Robert Pires was a revelation in north London. Perhaps what's most astonishing about him is to consider how brilliant he might have been were it not for an untimely cruciate ligament injury. Nevertheless, he won two Premier League titles and the hearts of the Highbury crowd.

             

2. Patrick Vieira

Like Garde, Patrick Vieira technically became an Arsenal player before Wenger assumed the reins in north London. However, he was very much a Wenger signing and was arguably the key factor in the Gunners' transformation into a devastating force. Vieira will be remembered as one of Arsenal's all-time greats.

    

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 23 :  The statue of Thierry Henry of Arsenal outside the stadium the UEFA Champions League match between Arsenal and Barcelona at the Emirates Stadium on February 23, 2016 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Catherine Ivill -
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

1. Thierry Henry

Can there be any doubt about the identity of Wenger's best French import? Thierry Henry joined from Juventus as a stringy winger, and he went on to become the club's greatest-ever goalscorer. Henry is the standard to which all future French signings will aspire.

             

James McNicholas is Bleacher Report's lead Arsenal correspondent and follows the club from a London base.