Arsene Wenger has been widely regarded has a transfer genius.
Even more so. For a man who has nurtured several young talents to world class stars, genius really is not an exaggeration.
Many managers are known to buy high, expensive, ready-made stars only to sell low. That’s not Wenger. Usually, he picks them raw, unrefined and low-priced only to develop them and move them on for a significant mark-up.
GoalDig went about identifying Arsene Wenger’s most profitable transfers since he became Arsenal manager.
11. GAEL CLICHY
Gael Clichy was an unknown quantity in this side of the divide when Arsene Wenger convinced him to sign his first professional contract with the Gunners.
Signed in 2003, he was to be an understudy to the team’s undisputed No1 left full-back, Ashley Cole.
Clichy brought genuine pace and energy down Arsenal’s left wing, a position he made his own after Cole made the switch to rivals, Chelsea.
In Clichy's first season with the club, he was a member of the ‘Invincibles’ that won the league title by going undefeated the whole season. Clichy thus became the youngest player to win a Premier League medal at 18 years and 10 months.
Wenger allowed Clichy to join Manchester City in 2011, pocketing £7 million and bringing an end to an 8-year relationship with the Arsenal faithfuls.
Profit Made: £7 million
10. THIERRY HENRY
Arsene took a bit of a gamble when he shelled £11 million to acquire the services of a certain Thierry Henry from Juventus in 1999.
But Le Prof’s gamble paid off, as usual. The Frenchman would go on to become Arsenal’s record goal scorer won two league titles and three FA Cups.
Under Wenger’s watchful guide, Henry was nominated for the FIFA World Player of the Year twice, was named the PFA Players' Player of the Year twice, and the FWA Footballer of the Year three times.
After eight years of dazzling runs and incredible goals that had the Premier League on its knees, Thierry joined Barcelona for £20 million. It was the perfect time for Wenger to let go of his star man and captain, while smiling to the bank with a nice profit.
Profit Made: £9 million
9. PATRICK VIEIRA
A relatively unknown Wenger had just been hired to manage London’s favourite club, Arsenal. Surprisingly, his first recommended signing would be equally unfancied quantity, compatriot Patrick Vieira.
£3.5 million was Milan’s value of the player. £3.5 million was what Arsenal paid.
Mind you, this was no gamble. Wenger knew exactly what he was doing and what the tall, strong, box-to-box midfielder was bringing to his team.
Together, the pair ushered a new wave of success to Arsenal winning three Premier League titles and four FA Cups. Vieira was the cornerstone and captain of the Invincibles, establishing his name in Arsenal’s folklore forever.
Juventus, in 2005, coughed out £13.75 million for Vieira to make the switch to Italy where he would enjoy more success and fame.
Profit Made: £10 million
8. SAMIR NASRI
Arsene Wenger’s penchant for technically gifted is well documented. Samir Nasri’s technique, dribbling skills, and vision was miles ahead of boys his age. Both were Frenchmen. It was a union made in the heavens.
In 2008, Wenger was glad to pay Marseille £12 million for Nasri. And the incredibly talented young man would go on to wow fans and foes alike in the Premier League.
After managing 18goals in 86 games for the Gunners, Nasri jumped ship and landed at money-bags, Manchester City. The transfer fee was priced in the region of £25 million.
It was sad for many Arsenal fans to watch him leave at the peak of his powers and countless still find it hard to forgive him.
Profit Made: £13 million
7. KOLO TOURE
One of the things we’ve always loved about Wenger is this: it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white, experienced or amateur, local or foreign, if you are good enough, you’ll get your chance to play.
That chance was given to one bright-eyed boy straight from the coast of West Africa, and, boy, did he grab it with both hands.
Wenger convinced ASEC Mimosas to part with Kolo Toure for a paltry £150,000 in 2002.
The boss used Touré as a central defender alongside Sol Campbell. He formed an effective partnership with Campbell and had a great season, becoming a core part of the Invincibles which went undefeated in the league, claiming the title.
Wenger completed a cool piece of business when, for £14 million, he allowed Toure to join Manchester City.
Profit Made: £14 million
6. MARC OVERMARS
Even for a £5 million transfer fee, Wenger must have been sweetly surprised at how his Dutch import from Ajax took to the Premier League with ease.
Marc Overmars terrorised defenders up and down the country with his terrifying pace, electric movements and composed finishes. He scored great goals and scored in the important matches. Overmars became a focal point of the team's league and cup double success.
In 2000, he moved to Barcelona in a deal worth £25 million and became the most expensive player in Dutch football history.
Profit Made: £20 million
5. NICOLAS ANELKA
Anelka’s career began at Paris Saint-Germain but for £500,000 he moved to join his compatriot, Wenger at Arsenal.
As a 17 year old boy, he was one of Wenger’s earliest experiments with talented youngsters at Arsenal. He quickly exhibited his potential for scoring great goals. Nicolas became a key player as Arsenal won both the Premier League and the FA Cup in 1998.
The following season, he scored 17 league goals for the Londoners and won the PFA Young Player of the Year Award.
Real Madrid had loved what they had seen enough to fork out £22.3 million for Anelka in 1999.
Profit Made: £21.8 million
4. EMMANUEL ADEBAYOR
Wenger wanted another Nwankwo Kanu, the Nigerian who had given Arsenal fans so many beautiful moments to savour and relive. No other player fit the bill as much as the enigmatic Togolese, Emmanuel Adebayor: tall, skilful, strong in the air and with the ability to create and score goals.
For £3m, Wenger got his man from Monaco.
Adebayor blossomed at the Emirates. He played like a man possessed and scored goals that had tongues wagging.
Admirers lined up Wenger’s door and the manager got tempted by Manchester City’s generous offer. £25million exchanged hands and Adebayor went the other way.
Profit Made: £22 million
3. ROBIN VAN PERSIE
Wenger began his search for a long-term replacement for Dennis Bergkamp early. He found Van Persie able and capable, sanctioning the flying Dutchman’s move to Arsenal from Feyenoord for £2.75 million in 2004.
He won the FA Community Shield and the FA Cup in his first season with the London club.
Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, converted Van Persie from a left winger to a centre forward as he had successfully done with star player Thierry Henry. Wenger was proved right yet again as Van Persie netted 96times for the club and became a fan favourite.
In 2012, Manchester United wanted a piece of the action and £25 million was the fee agreed before Robin Van Persie officially became a Red Devil.
Profit Made: £22.25 million
2. ASHLEY COLE
Ashley Cole is Arsenal’s only youth product to make it to this list and for very good reasons too.
Jermaine Pennant, Mathew Upson, Justin Hoyte, David Bentley have all come fairly good but not one of them made it to Cole’s level. A high level that has seen him regarded as the best full back of his generation.
With Arsenal he won two Premier League titles, three FA Cups, and was an integral member of "The Invincibles" team of the 2003–04 season, who went the entire league season undefeated.
In 2006, Chelsea wanted Ashley Cole as part of the revolution at Stamford Bridge. Wenger would have none of it. Controversy ensued.
Eventually, Cole was allowed to leave Emirates with French international defender, William Gallas plus £5 million going the opposite direction in a deal worth £25million.
Profit Made: £25 million
1. CESC FABREGAS
The best show of Arsene Wenger’s transfer genius came in the form of one prodigiously talented Spaniard.
Plucked from Barcelona’s famed youth academy for next to nothing in 2003, Cesc Fabregas became a world-class player at Arsenal.
Cesc became Arsenal's youngest ever first team player and subsequently, the youngest goal scorer in Arsenal's history.
From his early reputation as one of the best young players in his position, Fabregas grew to become a world beater.
He was in the starting eleven that defeated Manchester United on penalties in the 2005 FA Cup Final, winning his first honours with Arsenal.
Combining close control, incredible vision to pick a pass through the eye of a needle with a driven desire to score goals, he developed into the archetypal modern attacking midfielder under Wenger’s dotting care.
More silverware did not followed and Fabregas returned ‘home’ to Barcelona.
The £35 million the Spanish giants paid to secure his services was the highest Arsenal had ever received from a single transfer.
Profit Made: £35 million
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