Arsene Wenger’s 10 most expensive Arsenal signings – & how they fared

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Arsenal's (from left to right) Granit Xhaka, Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil appear dejected after Crystal Palace's Jordan Ayew (not pictured) scores his side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park, London.

Arsene Wenger signed over 100 players during his 22 years in charge of Arsenal, becoming renowned for his eye for a bargain in the transfer market.

Often reluctant to part with the club’s money, Wenger did make a few big-money signings with the Gunners, especially towards the end of his tenure.

We’ve looked at his 10 most expensive signings to see how they fared at the club. Note: we’ve stuck to the 10 biggest transfer fees Arsenal spent, ruling out the swap deal involving Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alexis Sanchez.

10. Danny Welbeck – £16m

Welbeck left boyhood club Manchester United and joined Arsenal on transfer deadline day in 2014.

Injury problems hampered his career in north London and the striker left the club in 2019, having scored 32 goals in 126 appearances.

“Right from the beginning of my time at Arsenal I always felt a lot of love and support from the fans,” Welbeck told the official Watford website in 2019.

“Obviously, we had some great times there and some terrible lows as well.”

9. Lucas Perez – £17.1m

According to The Athletic, Arsenal turned to Perez after missing out on Jamie Vardy in the summer of 2016 despite head of international scouting Francis Cagigao warning the club that the forward was “a mid-table player”.

The Spaniard managed just one goal in 11 Premier League appearances for the Gunners and was loaned back to Deportivo after a single season before and joining West Ham United on a permanent deal in 2018, where he similarly failed to impress and left after one campaign.

8. Jose Antonio Reyes – £17.5m

Reyes arrived at Arsenal in January 2004, with the Spaniard helping the Gunners complete their unbeaten season in the Premier League.

After a bright start, he struggled for consistency in north London, but still picked up an FA Cup winners’ medal – although he became the second player to be sent off in an FA Cup final – and also played in a Champions League final during his time at the club.

The winger spent the 2006-07 season on loan at Real Madrid and then signed for rivals Atletico Madrid on a permanent deal.

In 2019, Reyes was tragically killed in a car accident.

7. Calum Chambers – £18m

Chambers joined Arsenal from Southampton in 2014 as a highly-rated prospect and enjoyed a promising debut season at the Emirates.

The centre-back failed to kick on and has since spent time on loan at Middlesbrough and Fulham, suffering relegation from the Premier League on both occasions.

He returned to Arsenal in 2019 and went on to feature intermittently over the following two and a half seasons before signing for Aston Villa in January 2022.

6. Alexis Sanchez – £32m

How we miss the old Alexis Sanchez.

The Gunners won the race for Sanchez’s signature in 2014, and the Chilean was a revelation in north London, scoring 80 goals in 166 appearances.

Sanchez tainted his Arsenal legacy by joining Manchester United in January 2018 and things have gone remarkably pear-shaped for the forward since then, although there are some signs of him refining his old spark at Marseille.

READ: Alexis Sanchez & the tragedy of seeing great players reduced to punchlines

5. Granit Xhaka – £34m

Arsenal brought Xhaka to the Emirates from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2016 and big things were expected of the midfielder.

The 30-year-old has often been a much-maligned figure at Arsenal and was stripped of the captaincy after telling his own fans to “f*ck off” in 2019.

However, he has still made over 200 appearances for the club and shown signs of turning his career around under Mikel Arteta. In fact, he’s been nothing less than superb in 2022-23 so far.

“I have to smile a little bit because I am very, very happy to be back and to enjoy what I love the most: playing for this club and playing football,” Xhaka told Arsenal’s official website in February 2020.

“I had a very, very good meeting with him [Arteta] three days after he came into this club. He told me a lot of things and I was very open with him and he was very open with me.

“And now we are here, we are both very happy to bring this club to where they have to be.”

4. Shkodran Mustafi – £35m

The signing of Mustafi was mentioned in the same article in The Athletic as Perez, with James McNicholas writing: “When Arsenal were on the hunt for a new centre-half in the summer of 2016, the German did not figure on the scouting department’s list of recommendations. The statistics made a compelling case for the player and the scouting reports were overruled.”

The centre-back failed to justify his price tag and has been prone to a series of calamitous errors over the last three-and-a-half seasons, finding himself the subject of ridicule from supporters.

He left for Schalke in January 2021 and promptly suffered relegation from the Bundesliga. Mustafi has since joined Levante, who also suffered relegation with the erratic centre-back. Ouch.

3. Mesut Ozil – £42.5m

Ozil’s move from Real Madrid to Arsenal on deadline day in 2013 was seen as a huge statement of intent from Wenger’s side.

The enigmatic playmaker may have struggled with inconsistency but his time in England has still been a success, winning three FA Cups in his first four years with the club.

Things turned sour under Unai Emery, and while Ozil briefly enjoyed a resurgence under Mikel Arteta, he was frozen out of the squad and shipped out on a free transfer to Fenerbahce in January 2021. Things didn’t pick up there and he’s since moved to Super Lig rivals Istanbul Basaksehir. Where did it all go wrong?

READ: Where are they now? Arsenal’s XI from Mesut Ozil’s debut v Sunderland

2. Alexandre Lacazette – £47m

Arsenal broke their club transfer record to sign Lacazette from Lyon in 2017 as the Gunners looked to add firepower to their forward line.

After a mixed debut season, the French international has scored 70 goals in 193 appearances for the club and won their Player of the Year award in 2018-19.

Lacazette returned to his boyhood club Lyon following the expiration of his contract at the Emirates. He’s already matched his tally for league goals from last season.

1. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – £56m

Wenger really started to splash the cash towards the end of his Arsenal reign, signing Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018.

The Gabonese striker was ridiculously prolific in his first few seasons and even took over the armband from Granit Xhaka in November 2019.

“It’s a big honour,” Aubameyang told the National in February 2020. “When you see how many great captains they had in this team. I’m feeling very proud.

“I try to always give my best, to give advice to the young players as well. In everything, I try to do my best for my team.”

The captain’s curse seemed to strike, however, and things took a swift nosedive after he signed a contract extension in September 2020 – just a few months after he’d proven their talismanic hero in their FA Cup triumph at Wembley.

Just like Ozil, Aubameyang was frozen out by Arteta and allowed to leave for free mid-season, in a bid to save on his wages. Barcelona took advantage of the situation by snapping the newly-free agent in February 2022. He was a more than effective stop-gap signing for six months before returning to England with Chelsea in the summer.


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