A few days ago I wrote an article, and listed the 10 worst transfers Wenger has ever purchased whilst being at Arsenal.
This article is a total reverse and is dedicated to his 10 best ever transfers as the Arsenal manager.
The list is in chronological order from when the players were bought, so here they are:
Patrick Vieira (1996-2005)
Vieira’s acquisition of £3.5 million from A.C Milan in 1996 turned out to be an absolute bargain for the Gunners.
The Lanky midfielder fitted right into the English rough and tumble game and became one of the best centre-midfielders the world has ever seen.
Vieira had the ability to defend as well as attack, and was a formidable force in the centre of the park. His midfield partnership with fellow Frenchman Emmanuel Petit was something of pure class and genius by Wenger…it were as if both the midfielders knew what one another were doing throughout the whole 90 minutes.
In his 9 years spent at Arsenal, saw the midfield general accumulated a monstrous 406 games for the Gunners whilst netting 33 times along the way.
Vieira captained the side for 7 years after Tony Adams retired, and led Arsenal to 3 Premier League titles, 4 F.A Cups and 4 Community shields. Vieira has to go down as one of Wenger’s best ever transfers as well as an Arsenal legend for many fans.
Emmanuel Petit (1997-2000)
Wenger signed the pony-tailed midfielder whilst he was manager of Monaco and did it again for Arsenal in 1997 for £2.5 million.
Wenger transformed Petit from a centre-back into a solid defensive midfielder and decided to partner him alongside Vieira. This decision proved to be a very smart and affective one, as the two French midfielders formed one of the best pairings the English game has ever seen.
Petit along with his team, inspired Arsenal to a domestic double in his first season with the North London club. Despite being at Arsenal for only 3 years before moving to Barcelona, Petit is still highly admired by many of the Arsenal fans today.
Marc Overmars (1997-2003)
Overmars arrived in 1997 from Ajax for £6 million and the ‘Flying Dutchman’ took to the Premier league like duck to water.
His light-footed movements struck fear in the defence as the Dutchman used his brilliant pace and agility to get by defenders week in week out.
The former no.11 Arsenal man became a huge hit with Arsenal fans and helped the club clinch a Premier League title and F.A Cup. His 3 years at Arsenal propelled him into one of the most dangerous players in his position and soon enough Barcelona came knocking. Arsenal sold Overmars to the Catalan giants for £25 million in 2000.
Nicolas Anelka (1997-1999)
Brought in from Paris St-Germain in 1997 for $500,000, this was possibly one of Wenger’s greatest ever signings from a financial standpoint.
Anelka was not a very established striker until he made the switch to Highbury and he certainly made his mark very quickly. His goal threat and explosive pace helped the Gunners lift the Premier League title in his first season at the club. In 1998 Anelka helped Arsenal lift the F.A Cup, this was the Frenchman’s last trophy for the club.
Whilst he only spent 2 years in North London, Anelka built up a reputation of being one of the best strikers in the world and his efforts did not go unnoticed. Real Madrid acquired the striker’s services in 1999 for just over £22 million…a great profit for Wenger and Arsenal football club.
Freddie Ljungberg (1998-2007)
Ljungberg was an absolute nobody with a ridiculous hairstyle when Wenger captured him from Swedish side Halmstads in 1998 for £3 million.
However, the Swede grew in popularity and status very rapidly with his professional manner towards the game. The wide man provided great pace and a keen eye for goal when he was with Arsenal. Arguably his best season came in 2001-02 where he helped the North London club clinch their second domestic double.
Just like Pires, Ljungberg bagged 2 Premier League titles, 3 F.A Cups with the Gunners. But, after 9 years with Arsenal, 46 goals and 216 appearances, the versatile Swedish winger decided to depart from Highbury. Ljungberg headed east, where he signed a four-year deal with West Ham.
Thierry Henry (1999-2007)
Wenger’s best ever signing as Arsenal boss, no questions asked. Thierry Henry arrived from Juventus in 1999 for a fee of £10 million, which raised a few eyebrows with the Arsenal fans at the time. Henry was brought into the club to replace Nicolas Anelka, but Henry predominately played his football out on the wing rather than in the centre. This soon changed as Wenger converted the Frenchman into one of the best and most feared strikers the English game and world has ever witnessed.
His transformation from when he was bought, to the day he was sold was unprecedented. His skill, deadly finishing and terrifying pace made him one of the best in the world under Wenger’s guidance.
Henry spent 8 years at Arsenal and now holds the title of the clubs top ever goal scorer after shattering Ian Wright’s previous record. Wenger made a £6 million profit when he sold the forward to Barcelona in 2007.
Robert Pires (2000-2006)
In the year 2000, Wenger decided to bring in Robert Pires from French side Metz for £6 million. Fans were unsure of the acquisition of the winger at the time, but these views soon changed. Pires adapted quickly to the English game, while many pundits thought the Frenchman would have struggled in his first season at Highbury. His second season was a scintillating one, so good that he won the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year in 2002.
His skill, touch and technique was second to none, and the Arsenal faithful adored watching the Frenchman…he even bagged a few goals in the Arsenal shirt (84 in 283 appearances to be exact).
Pires spent 6 years at Arsenal where he won 2 Premier League titles, 3 F.A Cups, and 2 Community shields.
Sol Campbell (2001-2006)
Sol Campbell’s switch from Tottenham to Arsenal was one of the most controversial signings by Wenger, but proved to be a great one. Wenger signed the powerful centre-back on a free from their fierce rivals in 2001. Sol Campbell was an ideal candidate to fill the void that Tony Adams had left in the Arsenal defence.
Campbell spent 5 years with Arsenal where he lifted 2 Premier League titles, 3 F.A Cups and 2 Community shields.
In 2006 he left for Portsmouth where he spent 3 years at the southern club. The defender then made a shocking move to Notts County where he only played one game and decided to leave. In January this season, Campbell made a return to Arsenal and is now considering a new deal with the Gunners.
Jens Lehmann (2003-2006)
Despite what anyone thinks the capture of Jens Lehmann was one of Wenger’s best signings as Arsenal boss.
Granted, the goalkeeper had a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ personality about him, but the German was a class act for Arsenal football club. Wenger signed Lehmann from Borussia Dortmund in 2003 for an undisclosed fee as a possible replacement for David Seaman.
The German goal-stopper was a consistent performer for the club. His best feat came in the 2003-04 season when Arsenal went the entire season unbeaten to win the title; Lehmann played every game in the league that season.
Many fans adored his temperamental behaviour and some have said that Lehmann has been their best goalkeeper since David Seaman’s departure. The German stayed with Arsenal for 5 years before moving back to Germany to play for Stuttgart.
Cesc Fabregas (2003-Present)
Fabregas arrived from Barcelona when he was just 16 in September 2003. Since then, Wenger has nurtured and helped the youngster grow into one of footballs most talented stars.
Fabregas was appointed the clubs captain in 2008 and is now their talisman and prized asset. The midfield maestro pulls the strings for Arsenal these days and has great technique and skill in abundance.
Fabregas has been with Arsenal for seven years now and the 23-year-old has already managed to appear (in all competitions) 267 and bag 46 times for the Gunners. His future at Arsenal has been recently clouded with a move back to Barcelona, but whatever the outcome maybe, he is still regarded as one of Wenger’s best ever signings.
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