Houssem Aouar next? The 25 players Arsenal have signed from Ligue 1

After being left frustrated in their pursuit of Houssem Aouar during the 2020 summer window, Arsenal have reportedly reignited their interest in the Lyon midfielder.

We’ve taken a closer look at the previous 25 players they have signed from Ligue 1 in the Premier League era to see how they have generally fared.

Note: Matteo Guendouzi, Yaya Sanogo, Alex Song, Gael Clichy, Guy Demel and David Grondin were all playing in the lower divisions when they joined Arsenal.


Gabriel joined the Gunners from Lille and had an excellent start to life at the Emirates, winning three consecutive Arsenal Player of the Month awards in the first half of 2020-21.

The centre-back made 32 appearances in all competitions and showed glimpses of his talent during a disastrous season for the club.

“I can say that it’s not been a perfect year, because if it were a perfect year we would be at the top of the table, but it’s been a year of great learning because it’s my first in the Premier League, I’m very happy here, I already feel at home, little by little I’m learning English,” Gabriel told ESPN Brazil in April 2021.

“It’s been a learning season, which will certainly be remembered for the rest of my life. There were moments of learning, sadness, but as I said, a season that will be useful.”

Nicolas Pepe

Pepe arrived at the Emirates with big expectations as Arsenal broke their transfer record to sign the winger from Lille in 2019.

After being heavily criticised throughout a difficult debut season in England, the Ivory Coast international started to rediscover his best form in 2020-21.

READ: Remember hope, Arsenal fans? Nicolas Pepe is dishing it out in spades

William Saliba

Signed in the summer of 2019, Arsenal allowed Saliba to return to St Etienne on loan before he arrived at the Emirates in 2020.

The centre-back was left out of their Premier League and Europa League squads for 2020-21 by Mikel Arteta and spend the second half of the season on loan at Nice.

Having now agreed to join Marseille on loan ahead of 2021-22, he’ll have to wait a bit longer for his Arsenal debut.

Alexandre Lacazette

Lacazette came through the Lyon academy and scored 37 goals in all competitions in 2016-17 before completing a £46.5million move to Arsenal.

The striker is often overshadowed by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but 65 goals in 170 appearances at the time of writing is a solid return.

David Ospina

After starring for Colombia in the 2014 World Cup, Ospina joined Arsenal from Nice in a £3million deal.

The 31-year-old failed to establish himself as the first-choice goalkeeper and made just 29 Premier League appearances before joining Napoli in 2019.

Olivier Giroud

Giroud joined Arsenal from Montpellier in a £13million deal in 2012 and had the unenviable task of having to replace Robin van Persie.

The striker was a much-maligned figure at the Emirates despite netting 105 goals in 253 appearances for the club while also helping them win three FA Cups.


Gervinho helped Lille win Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France in 2010-11 before completing a £10.8million move to Arsenal.

The Ivory Coast international was sent off on his debut and endured a torrid two years at the club, scoring 11 goals in 63 appearances in all competitions.

“I was not getting much time on the pitch and was in need of this time to improve and play my best football,” Gervinho told The Sun in 2013.

“Wenger was not prepared to give it to me. Also my position on the wing was not what I was expecting and I wasn’t happy with it. It would have helped had he shown more confidence in me.”

Park Chu-young

Park was given Arsenal’s No.9 shirt after signing for the club from Monaco in 2011, but he made just seven appearances for the Gunners before being released in 2014.

Laurent Koscielny

Koscielny was a relatively unknown 24-year-old when he moved to north London from Lorient in an £8.4million deal in 2010.

The centre-back became a mainstay of their defence over the next nine years, making 353 appearances in all competitions.

He also won three FA Cups and even captained the club in 2018-19 before returning to Ligue 1 with Bordeaux.

Marouane Chamakh

Chamakh signed for the Gunners on a free transfer in 2010 after spending eight years with Bordeaux.

The striker made a bright start to his Arsenal career, scoring 11 goals in his first 22 appearances for the club, including their fastest goal in Premier League history.

Bur Robin Van Persie’s return from injury saw the Morocco international fall down the pecking order, and he joined Crystal Palace in 2013 after turning out to be rubbish. Don’t mention the hair.

Samir Nasri

Nasri became one of the most coveted teenagers in Europe after starring for Marseille and Arsenal won the race for his signature in 2008.

“The fact that Arsene Wenger gives great opportunities to young players is very important for me,” Nasri told Arsenal’s official website in 2008.

“Arsene has a great reputation and he is one of the best managers in the world. He has proved that he puts a lot of confidence in the young players and he gives them a chance.”

The midfielder produced moments of individual genius during his three years at the club – including an incredible solo goal against Porto – but angered fans by joining Manchester City in 2011. 

READ: A tribute to peak Samir Nasri at Arsenal & one of *the* great English CL goals

Bacary Sagna

Sagna arrived at Arsenal from Auxerre in 2007 and immediately cemented his position as the club’s first-choice right-back.

The France international made 284 appearances in all competitions during his seven years at Arsenal before joining Manchester City in 2014.

Abou Diaby

Diaby joined Arsenal from Auxerre in 2006 and was tipped to fill the gaping void left by Patrick Vieira in the middle of the park.

But the 34-year-old was plagued by injury problems during his nine years in north London, restricting him to just 124 Premier League appearances.

Emmanuel Adebayor

Arsenal brought Adebayor to the club for a reported fee of £3million in January 2006 and the striker scored 62 goals in 142 appearances.

Just don’t mention anything that happened afterwards.

READ: A rare celebration of peak Emmanuel Adebayor & his super spell at Arsenal

Mathieu Flamini

Flamini was only 20 years old when he swapped Marseille for north London in 2004, and he unsurprisingly struggled to break into the Invincibles side.

The France international eventually established himself as a first-team regular and formed a dominant partnership alongside Cesc Fabregas in central midfield.

He joined AC Milan on a free transfer in 2008 before returning to Arsenal for a second spell five years later.

Guillaume Warmuz

Warmuz signed a short-term contract at Arsenal in January 2003 but failed to make a single first-team appearance for the club.

Pascal Cygan

Arsene Wenger viewed Cygan as the successor to Tony Adams and signed the centre-back from Lille for £2million in 2002.

He made 18 Premier League appearances in the Invincible season but failed to impress the Arsenal supporters during four error-strewn years at the club.

Sylvain Wiltord

After impressing for Bordeaux and scoring the stoppage-time equaliser in the Euro 2000 final, Wiltord completed a £13million move to Arsenal.

The France international scored 49 goals in 175 appearances for the Gunners, winning two Premier League titles and two FA Cups.

He also scored the winning goal in a famous 1-0 victory over Manchester United that secured Arsenal the title at Old Trafford in 2002.

Robert Pires

After selling Marc Overmars to Barcelona for £25million in 2000, Arsenal signed Pires from Marseille for just £6million.

The France international was a key member of the Invincibles side who went unbeaten to win the 2003-04 Premier League title, one of four major trophies he won during his six-year stay in north London.

READ: An ode to Robert Pires, the final touch of class that made Arsenal Invincible

Kaba Diawara

Diawara showed great promise during his four-and-a-half years at Bordeaux and joined Arsenal for £2.5million in January 1999.

The striker failed to score in his 15 first-team appearances for the club and returned to France with Marseille after just six months in England.

Gilles Grimandi

Having played under Arsene Wenger at Monaco, Grimandi was reunited with his former manager at Highbury and went on to make 161 appearances for the club over five years.

Capable of playing at right-back, centre-back and central midfield, Grimandi’s versatility made him a useful squad player, and he was part of two Double-winning squads in his time at Arsenal before returning to the club in 2006 to spend 13 years as a scout.

His highlight for the club? Probably headbutting Leeds United striker Alan Smith.

READ: Arsenal & Leeds used to kick f*ck out of each other and even Wenger loved it

Emmanuel Petit

A brilliant midfielder with brilliant hair. What more could you ask for?

Oh, how about the fact Petit was all set to sign for Tottenham before Wenger caught wind and hijacked the transfer, with Spurs even inadvertently paying for the player’s taxi to Wenger’s house, thinking he was going straight to his hotel to mull over their offer.


Christopher Wreh

Another member of Arsenal’s 1997-98 Double-winning squad and another signing who had already played under Wenger at Monaco, Wreh cost £300,000 to sign from the French outfit in 1997.

The Liberia international was always low in the pecking order of Arsenal’s strikers, but his five goals for the club included two crucial winners in the title run-in, the decider in the FA Cup semi-final victory over Wolves, and another strike in the Charity Shield victory over Manchester United.

Nicolas Anelka

Signed for £500,000 as a relative unknown. Sold for £22.3million as one of the best strikers in Europe. Good work all round.


Remi Garde

Best known for one of the saddest managerial reigns in Premier League history courtesy of his five months and three wins at Aston Villa, Garde was recommended to Arsenal by Wenger, who was still coaching in Japan at the time.

The midfielder joined Arsenal on the same day as Patrick Vieira but acted as cover for what proved to be the final three seasons of his career, making 45 appearances in all competitions.

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