It’s 15 years since Arsenal last won the title. But they’ve had some fantastic players since, many of whom were signed on a tight budget.
If reports are to be believed, the Gunners don’t have a lot of funds to spend as Unai Emery looks to improve the squad ahead of the 2019-20 season. They’ll need to take some inspiration from some of the great bargains they’ve made in recent years.
Here are their nine best bargain signings, all brought in for £12m or less, since the legendary invincibles side of 2004. The figures are all taken from what was reported at the time of their signings.
The ludicrously handsome striker had helped Montpellier win the unlikeliest of Ligue 1 titles, beating Carlo Ancelotti’s PSG in the 2011-12 season. He was also the league’s top scorer with 21 goals, and yet Arsenal managed to sign him for a relatively modest fee that summer.
Silverware followed him to Arsenal, with three FA Cups and 105 goals in six years at the Emirates. Another FA Cup, the World Cup and the Europa League have followed since he left for Chelsea. The man wins trophies.
The Frenchman took time to settle at the Emirates after arriving from Lorient in 2010, with a debut season marred by mistakes at the back, most memorably the mix-up that saw them lose the League Cup final to Birmingham.
But it soon became clear he wasn’t just another Sebastian Squillaci, who arrived at the same time. Koscielny’s been a loyal and trustworthy lieutenant at the back for almost a decade now, and often their best defender.
The Gunners looked in dire straits at the beginning of the 2011-12 season as things reached a nadir with an 8-2 defeat to Manchester United in late August. Three days later, they signed Arteta from Everton on deadline day.
Many credit the midfielder with saving their season. Arsenal had picked up just seven points from their first seven games, but turned things around quite dramatically thanks to Arteta’s leadership from the centre of the pitch, as they went on to finish third and qualify for the Champions League.
The big f*cking German became a cult figure at Arsenal, with injuries perhaps robbing him of the ability to make an impact consistently. Mertesacker enjoyed a particularly good partnership with Koscielny; had the pair of them been fit together more often, they might been able to end the club’s long wait for another Premier League title.
— Football Tweet (@Football__Tweet) January 13, 2014
Signed from Borussia Dortmund in 2006, it’s difficult not to look back on Rosicky’s time at the club without a sense of “what if?”. Nevertheless, the Czech midfielder contributed enough great moments to be beloved by the Arsenal faithful, despite the regular injury setbacks.
Not exactly the flashiest or most dynamic full-back around, but a solid and dependable servant for the Gunners.
He’s made nearly 250 appearances since joining from Malaga in January 2013. Try and find a player for less than £10m that can do that for a top-six club today.
The teenager is clearly still in the “raw talent” stage of his development process, but the 20-year-old showed more than enough in his debut season to get Arsenal fans justifiably excited.
He looks like a steal at around £7m, the energy and enthusiasm he provides in midfield could prove invaluable going forward.
Arsenal weren’t able to command a fee for the Welshman when he moved to Juventus at the end of his contract, but they more than got their money’s worth for the £5m they paid Cardiff for him in 2008.
Absolutely pivotal in ending Arsenal’s nine-year trophy drought, Ramsey has proved to be the hero at Wembley on more than one occasion as he helped them lift three FA Cups in four years. What a player.
The centre-half’s time in the heart of Arsenal’s backline coincided with the most encouraging spell of Unai Emery’s reign so far, featuring often as they went 22 games unbeaten.
Unfortunately, his season was cut short after he suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament injury in December, but he’s shown more than enough ability and promise for fans to be excited by his return. An absolute bargain at just £2m from Bolton.