Eight of Wenger’s best buys – and eight he’d rather forget

Date published: Wednesday 31st May 2017 9:11

Arsene Wenger has extended his stay as manager of Arsenal into a 22nd season – we look back over his best and worst signings from his long reign.

The Frenchman was one of the first Premier League bosses to truly tap into the global transfer market having taken charge of the Gunners in 1996.

Here, the Press Association Sport look at the best of those signings, as well as some of the more forgettable recruits, during his time in charge at the Emirates.

BEST SIGNINGS

PATRICK VIEIRA – SIGNED FROM AC MILAN, AUGUST 1996, £3.5million

Patrick Vieira: Wanted Arsenal coaching role

ARSENAL APPEARANCES – 406 ARSENAL GOALS – 33

Vieira technically joined the club in the closing days of Bruce Rioch’s time in charge and before Wenger took the reins at Highbury.

But the powerhouse midfielder admitted it was Wenger’s impending arrival which saw him join a club he would go on to captain – most notably as the leader of Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ campaign in 2003/04.

His tough-tackling, full-blooded approach won many admirers and earned more than the odd red card before he departed for Juventus in 2005.

 

THIERRY HENRY – SIGNED FROM JUVENTUS, AUGUST 1999, £11million

ARSENAL APPEARANCES – 377 ARSENAL GOALS – 228

Unquestionably Wenger’s finest moment in the transfer market, the France forward is Arsenal’s all-time leading goalscorer having notched 228 goals across two spells with the club.

After an unimpressive stint at Juventus, Henry linked up once again with compatriot Wenger, having worked with him at Monaco, and was converted into an out-and-out striker. He would never look back.

Henry was the Premier League’s top goalscorer in four different seasons, winning seven honours with the Gunners.

He returned for a short spell on loan in 2012 and marked his final Premier League appearance for the club with a last-minute winner at Sunderland.

 

SOL CAMPBELL – SIGNED FROM TOTTENHAM, JULY 2001 – Free Transfer

ARSENAL APPEARANCES – 211 ARSENAL GOALS – 12

The signing of Campbell on a free transfer from Tottenham remains one of the most controversial moves in the history of the Premier League.

The England international surprised the footballing fraternity with the move, but his decision, and that of Wenger to poach a player from Arsenal’s fierce local rivals, would be vindicated as he was a pivotal part of the Invincibles’ unbeaten defence.

The defender may have only scored 12 goals, but one came in the Champions League final of 2006 – putting Arsenal ahead before their 10 men lost to Barcelona.

Like Henry, Campbell would return for a shorter second stint in 2010 after an ill-fated stay at Notts County.

 

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Nicolas Anelka, Cesc Fabregas, Freddie Ljungberg, Robert Pires, Alexis Sanchez

 

WORST SIGNINGS

PARK CHU-YOUNG – SIGNED FROM MONACO, AUGUST, 2011 – £4million

ARSENAL APPEARANCES – 7 ARSENAL GOALS – 1

South Korea international Park was part-way through a medical at Lille when he learned of Arsenal’s interest in the summer of 2011, leaving the hotel he had been staying in to head to London and complete a dream move to the Premier League.

But he would never become a first-team regular at the Emirates and made only one appearance in the league – a 2-1 defeat to Manchester United.

His solitary goal came in a League Cup win over Bolton before loan spells with Celta Vigo and Watford pre-empted his departure.

FRANCIS JEFFERS – SIGNED FROM EVERTON, JUNE 2001 – £8million

ARSENAL APPEARANCES – 39 ARSENAL GOALS – 8

Dubbed the ‘fox in the box’ for the predatory goalscoring instincts he had shown coming through the ranks at Goodison Park, it seemed a shrewd piece of business by Wenger to snap up the youngster – even at such a high price.

Jeffers could never replicate the sort of form which had earned him such a moniker as he suffered with injuries and the form of Henry kept him largely in the shadows.

He would win FA Cup winners’ medals in 2002 and 2003, despite not playing in either final and rejoined the Toffees on loan after being sent off in his final Arsenal appearance – the 2003 Community Shield defeat to Man United.

 

SEBASTIEN SQUILLACI – SIGNED FROM SEVILLA, AUGUST 2010 – £4million

Flops: Arsenal defenders Santos, Squillaci and Djourou

ARSENAL APPEARANCES – 39 ARSENAL GOALS – 2

Much was expected of the highly-rated French centre-back when Wenger brought in another of his compatriots in the summer of 2010, but things just did not work out at the Emirates Stadium for Squillaci.

He was first choice for much of his first season at the club following an injury to Thomas Vermaelen, but, after the arrival of Per Mertesacker a year later, he was soon making up the numbers for the Gunners.

His form suffered and his time was arguably best summed up in one of his six appearances during the 2011/12 season when he came on for the injured Francis Coquelin in an FA Cup tie at Sunderland, deflected Kieran Richardson’s effort past his own goalkeeper and was hauled off with less than an hour gone. He left for Bastia a year later when his contract expired.

 

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Gervinho, Kim Kallstrom, Jose Antonio Reyes, Andre Santos, Igor Stepanovs.

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