Arsene Wenger’s best (bargain) XI


With Arsene’s 1000th game coming up at the weekend, there are all kinds of Best XIs floating about. With a nod to the boss’s transfer market acumen, here’s our best bargain XI.

GK: Jens Lehmann £1.5m – He arrived from Borussia Dortmund and became an Invincible.

RB: Bacary Sagna £6m – The most expensive purchase but in terms of value for money he’s provided it.

CB: Sol Campbell £0.00p – Thanks Sp*rs!

CB: Kolo Toure £250,000 – He came as an eager jack of all trades, and became a top class centre-half. Sold for a profit of around £12m.

LB: Gael Clichy £400,000 – Arrived from Cannes a 17 year old rookie, played a key part in the unbeaten season, and was sold for a profit of close to £7m.

LM: Edu £600,000 – His fee was reported at £6m from Corinthians, it was much, much less than that. He really did have a cultured left foot.

CM: Patrick Vieira £3.5m – Rescued from AC Milan, he was Wenger’s second signing after Remi Garde and grew into one of the world’s best players at Highbury. Sold for a profit of £10.25m.

CM: Cesc Fabregas £0 – Snaffled from an out of contract situation at Barcelona, the Catalan ended up captaining the team before moving back to his second home for a profit of £36.5m – 1 lesser spotted van Bronckhorst.

RM: Freddie Ljungberg £3m – Arsene Wenger saw him playing for Sweden against England and immediately splashed out for the attacking midfielder who became a fans favourite and a crucial member of two title winning teams.

FW: Nicolas Anelka £500,000 – He was free but PSG took Arsenal to court and they had to pay a fee decided by arbitration. Anelka then did an Anelka and was sold to Real Madrid for £23m.

FW: Robin van Persie £2.5m – He is the Skunkiest of all Dutch Skunks, and a frustrating figure to look back on because of his injury problems, but is 8th in the all time scoring list. Profit of £21.5m after his sale to Man United where he was left by Alex Ferguson to be coached by Phil Neville.

Total cost – £18.25m

Total profit: £109.75m



    • In the end, its just Venga – what the fuck does he know?

      We’d fare better with the likes of Moyes and Laudrup.

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    • if he does leave, i’m more than confident he’d leave the club in capable hands. he’s gone through so much in terms of building the club that i can’t imagine he would suddenly cut the chord and quit without a plan in place.

      but it may come down to league position and the fa cup. it’s not trophy or bust, but it might be the closest to it in his years at the club.

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  1. When you write it all down, and I know lots of people complain about his transfer activity (which strangely coincided with us having very little money but people like to ignore this fact), he does know how to find a player and spin a profit.

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  2. I could have been his greatest achievement… Ah well, I’ll just have to wait until that sleeping bag coat needs a new owner

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  3. If you got Sagna in there for 6m, surely you could have included Henry.
    As value for money goes, 10m* for what he did was bargain of the century.

    *it was 10 wasn’t it?

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  4. Anelka really was an amazing bit of business wasn’t it. Shipped him for a huge chunk of cash and got the god-damn sexy Thierry Henry with the less than half the profits.

    that’s a big WIN.

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    • I really do wonder how good Anelka could have been for us had his head been screwed on properly and had his brothers/agents not been such dicks. Younger than Henry, similarly quick, good finisher… Fuck, imagine them both up front for us for the best part of 10 years.

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  5. As much as I like “the best XI” things, who would people have as his worst XI?

    And before any of you gits put Giroud in your line up, that’s not allowed, big nor clever 😉

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    • Does TGSTEL count? Considering his latest behaviour, I’d include him just for the damage he does to the club’s name.

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    • GK – Wright
      RB – Hoyte (don’t think he was bought but struggling to think of one we bought)
      CB – Silvestre
      CB – Squillaci (Stepanovs, Cygan and Senderos get honorary mentions)
      LB – Santos
      RM – Bentley
      CM – Denilson
      CM – Inamoto
      LM – Arshavin? (in here because he cost a lot, not that he was rubbish. In fact, fuck it let’s put Boa Morte instead)
      FW – Jeffers
      FW – Baptista (only because he cost more than Park)

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      • I think that’s very harsh on both Denilson and Arshavin. Yes, perhaps they both failed to reach the heights we’d hoped they could reach, but on the other hand you might suggest that their earlier showings might have actually been overachieving.

        Denilson cost 3.4 mil and played very nearly 100 games for The Arsenal, including about 50 in a season if I remember rightly.
        Arshavin, whilst expensive, is not expensive relative to the entire transfer market. On top of this, he made 106 appearances for us; not to be snorted at, for sure. He was also had a .25 goals per game rate; a goal every 4 game isn’t bad fare at all for a midfielder.

        When you consider that Park didn’t make your list, you can’t really include these two…

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      • Oh c’mon. Senderos wasn’t that bad. Just think back at the run to Paris 06. Ten games without concedeing. Most of them with the bold Swiss at the heart of our defence.

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  6. I would have put Petit above Edu, he was only about half a mil I believe, and more important than Edu for the time he was here…

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  7. Fair enough on the right back/Henry thing blogs.
    Hopefully by Wenger’s 1100th game, we can include Carl Jenkinson on the list.

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  8. Would love to see a few more of these in the next few days… Also Id like to see what your best XI really would be

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  9. Echo That
    The man is an economic mastermind
    Osbourne could learn from him
    Arsene Wenger “good buys” and all that

    If he leaves us I will cry
    If he becomes ill I will cry
    If he (perish the thought, don’t go there my girl) , passes I will weep like a child
    I had an “odd turn” in my tummy reading your blog today Andrew
    I want him to be my Granddad. and…..I know it’s not possible
    He is not perfect and neither I’m I
    Arsene Arsenal Forward

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  10. Id love to see a worst 11. Wright or Almunia? Senderos or Squillaci. Francis Jeffers would be 1 of the 3 stars in that team (if we were playing championship manager 01/02).

    Good old Wenger! Hes the best.

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  11. I suppose you’d also have to consider Adebayor. He was sold for a £20m + profit. Wikepedia says we bought him for around £3m, and sold him for around £25m. £22m profit? Fractionally more than the skunk?

    Also Alex Song, £15m / £16m profit?

    Maybe you should expand it to include subs?

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  12. The fans at the emirates need to start singning “Sign the ting Venga” This guy has been immense for us and majority of the overseas fans are supporters of The Arsenal due his work on the pitch.

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  13. Hmm Interesting article, some notable omissions.

    – Lauren I pointed above in one of the replies.

    – Alex Song. I know there’s Vieera and Fabregas in there, but I think overall Alex was sold at greater % profit
    than Vieira. Also would put him ahead of Edu. As much as I love Edu, he left for free while Song left for a
    huge profit.

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    • Edu was in a different league to Song. Song defined lackadaisical and never started playing until 15 minutes had passed.

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  14. ALso what would his worst signings be –

    GKs – Almunia, Wright
    DR – Eboue, Luhzny
    DC – Cygan, Stepanovs
    DL – Silvestre, Santos
    Mid – Denilson, Inamoto
    Wingers – Arshavin, Gervinho, Boa Morte
    Att – Jeffers, Park

    Also some Wenger signings who weren’t world class, but we love anyway and would have liked to see more of –

    Stuart Taylor (was he a signing or academy), Giovanni Van Bronkhorst, Hleb, Edu.

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    • So much Eboue hate. It’s no joke to make 130 appearances for this club, and on his day he was a real goer on attack.

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  15. Mmm, Wenger’s certainly the best manager in the League for picking out a bargain, no doubt.

    It’s a shame he can’t really do this any more – not due to any fault with him, it’s just the way of the world. Other teams have clued up to the ‘diamond in the rough’ strategy and now actively pay over the odds for talent that hasn’t even proved themselves. It’s very rare for teams to spend very little on players now and have them turn into wonders. I’d probably say that the two most recent successes we’ve had have been Ramsey – what, £6m, was it? Or £8m? And Santi, who was £16m if I remember, and a massive, massive bargain considering what a talent he is. Still, it’s a significant outlay. I still remember being somewhat incredulous to Theo’s and the Ox’s price tag, considering they were young and raw when we bought them – but both have already shown they were worth the investment.

    Still, nice to get nostalgic over this list. I’d love to see a list of those players who have actually had several successful seasons after leaving us – as far as I can tell, it’s fairly small. ca$hley, the chinless wonder, Cesc… that’s really about it. Maybe Toure too. On the flip side, the skunk is festering, unhappy, down in 7th, his performances terrible of late. Adepaywhore is still playing for a Gooner. Anelka is goosestepping his way around Europe. Players like Hleb and even TiTi didn’t have great personal success after leaving us either (although they did win trophies with their respective teams). Or is this too bitter a list to show?

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    • This manager has been in charge of 1,000 arsenal games and there are fans out there who still think they know better than him.

      the period in which our legendary manager was questioned, critisised and disrespected as harshly by his own fans is the most disgraceful period in Arsenal’s history and one of the most em,barassing momments for the fans

      even those of us who never lost faith or trust we are guilty for not shutting up the cretins sooner and isolating them.

      I feel sorry and embarassed that i did not smash that twat’s face when he was chanting aggresively “spend some fucking money” two rows below me at block 96

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      • Heh, I’ve been one of his detractors, certainly. But I still recognise him as being the sole reason we are where we are – financially stable, with a strong team.

        He has made mistakes – plenty – but there’s not a single manager who hasn’t who has been going for as long as Wenger has. I would say that each fan is entitled to their own opinion, too; just as Wenger can be praised for his tight budget and ability to find talent, so can he be judged by his stubborn nature and sometimes inability to seal the right deal. Swings and roundabouts. We all support the same club at the end of the day – shutting up the fans who speak out against Wenger are just showing their passion, same as those who support him. Me, I’m kinda in the middle.

        One thing I do stress is that whatever happens, he’s (almost) certainly not going to be around by 2020. We need to accept that and be prepared for him to move on and/or retire. The club will always be bigger than the manager, no matter who the manager is.

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        • Everyone Knows this But i repeat it “Arsene is not bigger than ARSENAL, But ARSENAL are Bigger because of Arsene”

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      • Personally i do understand people wanting us to spend more money. Ranked 4th on forbes most valuable football club list, then it should not be a problem going in to debt to finance some players. All Clubs are doing it, because they have no problem managing their debt. And being one of the most valuable Clubs in the world, then we certainly would not have a problem with that either.

        So i understand that it can be kind of frustrating when we primarily seem to concern ourselves with having Green numbers in the financial protocol and making a profit, while other Clubs do what it takes to fight for trophies.

        Alot of Clubs much worse off than us financially are still spending alot more on the transfer market.

        And when the players celebrate 4th place like its a trophy, and the club speaks of how proud we should be because of how well financially it is run, then i think they have lost track at why people are football supporters to begin with. While United and Chelsea celebrate trophies we celebrate 4th place because it means the club made another 30million pounds that we can be so proud of.

        When you start cheering because Kroenke made some more money when we ourselves are left empty handed yet again, then i think people need to take a look in the Mirror and ask yourselves why.

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  16. What a manager. For a while I was worried watching the demise of post Ferguson Utd but I think that’s unfounded. I wonder if Blogs is right and he’ll be off at the end of the year leaving the next manager one of the best and most stable squads we’ve had in years. It would certainly prove him to be a class above Fergie who left Moyes with a total bag of shite to take over.
    Alternate is he’ll give it another year or two and mentor Bouldie or this Jonker bloke into the role.

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  17. No Henry? Surely in terms of value for money he’s got to be right up there. RvP only gave us 1.5 great seasons. Henry was great season after season.

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  18. Who knows, it may be time for Wenger to part from Arsenal.. But look at his number. Embarrassing people are so quick to say “sack wenger” is numbers don’t lie. While the past few years have been a struggle, I honestly belive he has put a lot of thought over the past years about the day he will leave arsenal. We don’t want a situation like united yet we need trophies. Regardless of what happens I believe that if Wenger has a say on who is to follow him he will chose the right person to bring us back to lifting trophies while maintaining all that is the Arsenal Football Club. Will never give up, Gooner for life!!! Stay positive guys!! COYG

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  19. When its all laid out like that…..Maybe Wenger does know

    There where some Donkeys (Jeffers, Wright, stepanovs) cant deny that BUT
    Only expensive flop was Reyes…I think Arshavin paid Wenger back by getting top four that season.

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  20. Might aswell include park chu young. got him for £4.5M and will leave for free. making it a loss of £4.5M but considering how absolute whack he was we should be glad we didnt pay even a penny more making it a bargain. Hahahahaha

    Im so sorry guys but this transfer business was silly.Hehe amazing.

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  21. This may be common knowledge to some, but I was listening to Ray Parlour yesterday talking about Kolo Toure’s trial. I guess it was supposed to be a no-tackling practise match, and by the end of the game Kolo had chopped down bergkamp and bruised his ankle, was warned by Wenger, he then chopped down Henry who was limping, and said sorry, he then chopped down Wenger at the end of the match and wenger got a bruised foot… Wenger’s response? He turned around and said “sign him up, I like his desire” haha. Legend.

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      • GK: Wright £8m

        LB: Santos £6m CB: Cygan £3,4m CB: Squid £5,7m RB: Luzhny £2,4m

        LM: Boa Morte £2m CM: Diarra £2,5m CM:Bischoff £0,7m RM: Gervinho £10m

        S: Diawara £2,6 S: Jeffers £13,5m

        Dont know about the transfer fees (internet) but it is a lot of Money.

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  22. I would actually put Henry in there instead of RvP. Yes, he cost more and sold for less, but how much money did he generate during his stay due to shirt sales, trophies and what not? A whole lot more than RvP, certainly. Also, RvP ended up being a problem for us more often than not, as Wenger would rely on him as our main striker, only for him to end up injured, leaving us with Adebayor or something as the only available striker.

    In short: RvP was just too injury prone to be considered a bargain. Thierry Henry and RvP spent about the same amount of time at the club, but Henry scored around 100 goals more than RvP. That’s a pretty crazy difference.

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    • That really made sense, would be awesome if the same mentality is applied to what players bring to the team. Sagna is a massive player for the team and for the club, why do we not value him more. I was also happy to see a defensive player pic up a player of the match award. That does not happen often enough. The fact is that goals win games, but what about players who put in 120% game in and game out, at the other end of the spectrum?

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      • Sagna should be good till 34 at very least ala Dixon who went on till 38.

        There could be a compromise on the salary between 77K to 90K somewhere but maybe the 6m re-signing fee could be the sticky issue.

        If we win the league, that won’t be quite as much of an issue.

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  23. Good choices there. As you said, Overmars was close. I loved it when we signed him and everyone was saying ”He’ll last ten minutes before he picks up an inj…oh my goodness…he’s scored again…he’s bloody quick isn’t he?”

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  24. Left Back.

    I know we all hate him but Ashley Cole was free being one of the first Academy products to be promoted through by Wenger.

    Also Silvinho @ 4m still represents a great bargain as with Nawanko Kanu @ 4.5m

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  25. Blatantly of course, Arsene doesn’t know how to construct a defense. He was lucky with inheriting Graham’s back line.

    That bit with Toure and Campbell and the invincibles, luck over 49 games.

    Luck strikes twice with Meterscielny.

    Wenger knows F all. Wenger out.:)

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  26. Wenger on the main site :

    “This was a trophyless period but a much more difficult and sensitive period, where it needed much more commitment and strength than in the first part of my stay here.

    “I went for a challenge that I knew would be difficult because we had to fight with clubs who lose £150 million per year and we had to make £30 million. On top of that we had to stand up with people telling us we had to beat them.

    “Look, if I ask you tomorrow to race with Usain Bolt and win the race, you’ll realise quickly it is difficult.

    “I accepted to stay here a long time knowing that we had little chance to win the Premier League, but I think now we are in a position again where we can fight with other clubs to sign big players. I think we can be proud of the consistency of our achievement at the club.”

    He had an easier time in the earlier part of his reign because he has essentially monopoly on knowledge of foreign players and the market for them was less developed with most English teams still totting the merits of ‘Englishness”.

    The trophy drought coincided the stadium move with the introduction of oligarch run clubs like City and Chelsea in concert with the International market opening up for most teams in England largely a result of Wenger’s pioneering efforts.

    Also add to that the more equitable distribution of TV income whereby we now have many of the bottom teams even boasting foreign players when not too recently, Wenger was castigated for this.

    The landscape has changed.

    Wenger has had to adapt (perhaps not quickly enough as he would have liked) but we are as he says on the cusp of being competitive again.

    I can’t see why Wenger would leave at this juncture with young players like Ramsey, Jack, Gnabry, Zelalem and Walcott just starting to shine. At very least, he has yet to start auditioning for his successor, something he will likely do as he seeks to retain the legacy he has built around the club and its ethos over the last 17 seasons.

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  27. What about Flamini? I know we didn’t make a profit but he’s been of the buys of the season for sure. Or Szczesny? We didn’t even pay Legia Waraw a fee for him and now he’s our number1

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  28. I hope when Wenger decides to retire that his “Chosen One” is more capable than David Moyes. Personally im rather fond of Jürgen Klopp, but whomever the boss choose, im sure he will turn out allright.

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