Let’s take a walk down memory lane.
Try and recall Arsène Wenger’s first two signings. Rémi Garde from Strasbourg on a free transfer and Patrick Vieira from A.C. Milan for £3,500,000.
Garde was just a squad player and currently manages Lyon. Vieira became one of the greatest midfielders ever to grace the Premier League.
During Wenger’s tenure at Arsenal, he has approximately recorded £311 million in transfer profit.
Here are his nine most profitable transfers.
I've only included players who were bought and sold by Arsenal.
- From Juventus to Arsenal for £10.5 million (1999)
- From Arsenal to Barcelona for £16.1 million (2007)
- Profit: £5.6 million
People often forget Thierry Henry was an outcast in Serie A, as he put in anonymous performances and drifted in and out of games.
Henry was given a chance by Arsène Wenger, who had managed him at Monaco, and the rest is history.
Several years earlier, Arsenal had given Dennis Bergkamp a chance, after he failed to impress at Inter Milan—he played so poorly that the Italian media would give the worst player of the week the Bergkamp of the Week award.
I wonder if Bergkamp had failed, would Arsenal have given Wenger the green light to sign Henry who had failed in the Serie A.
- From Marseille to Arsenal for £15.8 million (2008)
- From Arsenal to Manchester City for £22 million (2011)
- Profit: £6.2 million
I've always wondered would Samir Nasri be a better player if he didn't break his leg.
What should have been a career debilitating injury didn't stop Nasri from playing inspired football. He may have lost that ability to accelerate past players like he used to at Marseille, but his creativity and football IQ is typical of an Arsène Wenger player.
When he said he didn't leave for money, I could only roll my eyes, because Manchester City would have offered him a better contract.
At the end of the day, not only were Manchester City in better position to contend for titles, they also could offer him the wages Arsenal wouldn't be able to.
Also, £22 million for a player who would have been out of contract in the summer is outrageous.
- From Cannes to Arsenal for £250,000 (2003)
- From Arsenal to Manchester City for £7 million (2011)
- Profit: £6.75 million
What I loved about this signing was that Arsène Wenger personally scouted Gaël Clichy.
Clichy became one of the premier left backs in the world, but he has yet to become an efficient attacker.
From time to time, Clichy goes missing in action when it comes to defending; though, so far, he has been the better left back at Manchester City than Aleksandar Kolarov.
- From A.C. Milan to Arsenal for £3.5 million (1996)
- From Arsenal to Juventus for £13.7 million (2005)
- Profit: £10.2 million
Patrick Vieira was never going to get ahead of the likes of Marcel Desailly and Demetrio Albertini at A.C. Milan. Remember, a young Massimo Ambrosini was coming up in the foray.
Patrick Vieira’s move to Arsenal was a career-defining move because he became the rock, he was the leader, and the engine room behind Arsenal’s success.
Particularly during the Invincible season.
Ironically, Fabio Capello, the man who didn’t give Vieira a chance at A.C. Milan, bought him to Juventus.
That season for Juventus was one of the most dominant performances in recent memory. They finished 15 points ahead of second place Inter Milan.
Of course, we later found out that Juventus were fixing matches.
- From ASEC Mimosas to Arsenal for £150,000 (2002)
- From Arsenal to Manchester City for £16 million (2009)
- Profit: £15.85 million
Kolo Touré was a wholehearted performer and a team player for Arsenal. It was a perplexing decision from Arsène Wenger to choose William Gallas over Touré.
Gallas not only ended up doing more harm than good to Arsenal, but he left the very next season.
- From Monaco to Arsenal for £7 million(2006)
- From Arsenal to Manchester City for £25 million (2009)
- Profit: £18 million
Emmanuel Adebayor secured a lifetime of hatred from the Arsenal faithful when he ran the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of them having just scored for Manchester City.
Stay classy, Adebayor.
- From Ajax to Arsenal for £7 million (1997)
- From Arsenal to Barcelona for £25 million (2000)
- Profit: £18 million
What on Earth was Joan Gaspart thinking?
I can envision Arsène Wenger looking studiously at the eight-figure sum and grinning.
Marc Overmars was a good player, but he wasn’t £25 million good. No surprise that Gaspart’s reign at Barcelona resulted in zero trophies.
- From Paris Saint-Germain to Arsenal for £500,000 (1997)
- From Arsenal to Real Madrid for £23 million (1999)
- Profit: £22.5 million
Le Sulk had all the physical and technical attributes. Strength, pace, skill and an eye for goal.
What he didn’t have were the intangibles. No determination, no will to succeed and no heart to fight back.
Anelka defined mental fragility:
“I thought, ‘So that’s how it is? This is how you thank me? OK, now you watch what is going to happen.' I am going to play, score my goals and just when you are saying, 'Anelka, Anelka,' that’s when I’m going to leave.”
His career has been good, but it should have been great.
- From Barcelona to Arsenal for £2.25 million (2003)
- From Arsenal to Barcelona for £35 million (2011)
- Profit: £32.75 million
Ashley Cole called Cesc Fàbregas an “unproven featherweight,” yet from Day One, number 57 (coincidentally Fàbregas ended on 57 career goals for Arsenal) had heavyweight potential. So much potential that he became Arsenal’s youngest first-team player at 16 years and 177 days old.
As he grew in stature, his yearning for home became more evident, and Barcelona’s regret in letting him go mirrored that of a jilted lover begging his ex for one more chance.
Wenger described Fàbregas’ situation perfectly: “An affair of the heart.”
Of the nine transfers listed in this article, which one do you think is the most inflated?
For me, it's easily Marc Overmars. £25 million in 2000 was extremely expensive. If the transfer had taken place in 1998, it would have been the world transfer record.
Please read The Most Wasted Talents in World Football History.