Arsenal’s Top 10 Signings

With the January transfer window around the corner, there is the usual speculation surrounding potential targets for Arsenal and the continued rumours around the futures of both Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.

It is clear Arsenal need some new recruits but we should have confidence in their scouting abilities considering some of the transfers they have made in the past. As such, oohtobeagooner takes a look at 10 of the best Arsenal signings of all time…

10. Nigel Winterburn – £350k – Wimbledon – 1987

After being at both Birmingham City and Oxford United as a youth player but failing to make an appearance with either side, Winterburn’s big break came when he joined Dave Bassett’s Wimbledon in 1983.

While with “The Crazy Gang”, Winterburn won promotion to the First Division in 1986 and was signed by Arsenal manager George Graham in 1987 as a long-term replacement for captain Kenny Sansom. His initial period at The Gunners saw Winterburn play as right-back due to Graham being unable to find a replacement for Viv Anderson but once Samson left he went back to his familiar left-back role and became one of the most successful players in that position in the club’s history. Winterburn was part of the famous backline that consisted of himself, Tony Adams, Steve Bould, Martin Keown and right back Lee Dixon.

9. Lee Dixon – £375k – Stoke City – 1988

The marauding right-back started his career at Burnley and cut his cloth in the lower leagues with the likes of Chester City and Bury. He joined Stoke City in 1986 and was excellent at right-back for the Potters.

He played 50 games during the 1986-87 season, netting three times and would be a key player again the following season. His performances with Stoke got him noticed by George Graham at Arsenal when he was searching for a replacement for Viv Anderson, who had joined Manchester United.

Dixon joined Arsenal in 1988 and, although he was not an immediate starter, he soon made the right-back berth his own. He would play at right back for Arsenal for a decade and also made 22 appearances for England.

8. Ian Wright – £2.5m – Crystal Palace – 1991

Not many people believed that Ian Wright would go on to become the top scorer in Arsenal’s history when he joined them in 1991 and he often recalls that many people thought he was not good enough to play for the North London outfit.

His career started out in the non-leagues with Greenwich Borough and was spotted by scouts from Crystal Palace after a tip-off from then Dulwich Hamlet manager Billy Smith. Steve Coppell was impressed with Wright and signed him in 1988. He was an instant success and formed a, now famous, partnership with Mark Bright. After scoring 117 goals for Palace he joined The Gunners and continued that phenomenal scoring success, eventually becoming the club’s record goal scorer with 185 strikes. Alexandra Lacazette has odds of 25/1 to be the Premier League’s top scorer this season with, but it would be interesting to see what Wrighty would get if he was still playing today; a great striker and one of the top ten signings for sure.

7. Dennis Bergkamp – £7.5m – Inter Milan – 1995

The Dutch sensation was signed when the Inter chairman Massimo Morrati took over at the Milan club and decided to bring in his own players.

Wenger jumped at the chance to bring Bergkamp to Highbury and the signing was a revelation. Bergkamp wowed the Premier League with his skills and finishing ability, famously scoring that truly amazing effort against Newcastle United. He would go on to become an Arsenal favourite as well as being popular with many neutral fans.

6. Patrick Viera – £3.5m – AC Milan – 1996

AC Milan must have been kicking themselves when they let Viera leave for as little £3.5 million. The French midfielder was seen as surplus to requirements by the Rossoneri but went on to be one of Arsenal’s most accomplished players of all time.

His driving midfield presence was key to the early Arsene Wenger success and he made over 400 appearances for the club. He was able to pick out the runs of Arsenal forwards like Ian Wright in such a precise way that it was a pleasure to play in front of him. Ian Wright once said:

“It’s been a while since we’ve had a midfield player who looks at the front man’s run first and then looks at other options. He makes dream passes forward and he’s already put me in several times.”


Patrick Viera by Steindy (CC BY-SA 3.0)

5. Emmanual Petit – £2.5m – Monaco – 1997

Another of Arsenal’s French stars who was vital in their success in the early Wenger years. To get the flying midfield maestro for only £2.5 million seems absurd by modern standards. Petit would form a wonderful midfield partnership with Viera during his time with the Gunners and would also play a key role in France winning the 1998 World Cup on home soil.

He made over 100 appearances during his three seasons at Highbury before joining Barcelona in 2000.

4. Nicolas Anelka – £500k – PSG – 1997

What could you get for £500,000 these days? Probably not even a one bedroom flat in London, so for Arsenal to get a player of Anelka’s quality for such a cheap price was truly remarkable. Only 17 when he signed, he was not appreciated by all in England, being dubbed “Le Sulk” by the English press, but he had undoubted talent. In his 90 appearances for Arsenal, he scored 28 goals, including 19 in the last of his three seasons at the club. He was sold to Real Madrid for £22.5 million, a profit of a £22 million in just three years – not a bad return.

3. Thierry Henry – £11m – Juventus – 1999

It is unlikely many people realised just how good Henry would be when he first joined Arsenal from Juventus in 1999. He had struggled at Juve, only managing to score three goals in 16 appearances from the left-wing, where he was being played. Over the next eight years Henry would become an icon for the North London club and would also break Ian Wright’s scoring record. He is considered by many to be the greatest striker since the inception of the Premier League and it is hard to argue against that.

He scored an amazing 226 goals in only 369 games as a Gooner, a true cult hero.


Thierry Henry by Warrenfish (CC BY-SA 3.0)

2. Sol Campbell – Free – Tottenham – 2001

This was the best signing in terms of value and in terms of getting one over on your rivals. Spurs fans never forgave Campbell for leaving White Hart Lane but the England international was a key part of the Arsenal success in 2001-02 and in the team named The Invincibles in 2003-04.

He would make 195 appearances for Arsenal in the five seasons that he was with the club and even came back for a second spell in 2010. He is considered by many to be one of the best English centre-backs of all time and was named in the Teams of the Tournament for both the World Cup 2002 and Euro 2004.

1. Cesc Fabregas – £1m – Barcelona – 2001

The Spanish starlet was signed after realising that first team opportunities at Barcelona would be limited. In 2003, when he made his debut in the League Cup tie against Rotherham, he became Arsenal’s youngest ever first team players at 16 years and 177 days old.

He would go on to become a lynchpin in the side over the next eight years and would make over 300 appearances for Arsenal as well as being named as the club captain in 2008.

So there you have it, the top ten Arsenal signings, arguably, of all time. We will let you decide the order, but whoever joins the club in January is going to have to be some signing to displace any of the heroes on this list.

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