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Arsenal’s most expensive signings ever

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Having been crowned champions of England on no fewer than 13 occasions, Arsenal are one of the biggest clubs in the English game.

The Gunners are also prolific winners of the country’s most prestigious cup competition, and have 14 successes to their name after defeating Chelsea in the final of the 2020 edition.

Over the years, like many of their heavyweight counterparts over the years, Arsenal have spent a hell of a lot of money on players to try and maintain their standing as one of the best club’s around. Inevitably, some have been brilliant, some have been good and some have been outright awful.

Here, 90min spins you through their 30 most expensive acquisitions.

Petr Cech
Petr Cech signed for the Gunners from their London rivals Chelsea in July 2015 | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Having won four Premier League titles, a Champions League, a Europa League, four FA Cups and three League Cups with Arsenal’s London rivals Chelsea, Petr Cech arrived at The Emirates Stadium as a Blues legend.

He went on to play 139 times for the Gunners and although he was a part of the 2017 FA Cup-winning side under Arsene Wenger, many would argue by the time he made the switch, his best days were behind him.

Gabriel joined the Gunners from Villarreal in 2015 but the Brazilian returned to La Liga just two and a half years later
Gabriel joined the Gunners from Villarreal in 2015 but the Brazilian returned to La Liga just two and a half years later | Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Gabriel struggled to establish himself as a first-team regular at the Emirates Stadium, although you could never question his desire to win or commitment.

He won two FA Cups during his time in north London before moving to Valencia.

Made the switch from the Bundesliga to the Premier League in 2005
Made the switch from the Bundesliga to the Premier League in 2005 | Michael Steele/Getty Images

In terms of his technical ability, Aleksandr Hleb was a joy to watch. His ability to operate in small pockets of space and dribble past opponents with ease made him a purist’s dream.

In 2008, he was sold to Barcelona but it’s fair to say the Belarussian lost his way after things didn’t work out at Camp Nou. Has since been quoted as saying he regrets leaving Arsenal when he did.

Mathieu Debuchy signed for the Gunners in the summer of 2014 but struggled to make his mark in north London
Mathieu Debuchy signed for the Gunners in the summer of 2014 but struggled to make his mark in north London | Julian Finney/Getty Images

Mathieu Debuchy was plagued by injury problems during his time with the Gunners, and was limited to just 30 appearances in red and white.

Having played in the Premier League previously with Newcastle United, he had already proven his quality – but just couldn’t get fit.

Lukas Podolski
Podolski scored some brilliant goals with that hammer of a left-foot of his during his time at Arsenal | Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

German World Cup winner Lukas Podolski played 82 times for the Arsenal, scoring 31 goals and providing 17 assists.

He became a bit of a cult hero amongst the club’s fans, partly due to his wonderful left-foot and partly because of his character off of the field.

Francis Jeffers
Signed from Everton in 2001, Jeffers failed to live up to expectations at Arsenal | Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Hailed as the ‘Fox in the Box’ prior to joining the Gunners, there were high expectations for then Everton striker Francis Jeffers when he arrived at Highbury.

Unfortunately, he was ravaged by injuries during his time in north London and spent long periods on the sidelines – which didn’t help his cause when trying to establish himself alongside the likes of Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp.

Samir Nasri scored some vital goals for the Gunners during his time in north London
Samir Nasri scored some vital goals for the Gunners during his time in north London | LEON NEAL/Getty Images

Signed from Marseille in 2008, Samir Nasri, for the most part of his Arsenal career, impressed, scoring 27 goals from midfield before controversially moving on to Manchester City.

The nature of his departure turned large sections of the Gunners fanbase against him and, for that reason, perhaps he doesn’t get as much credit as his performances deserved.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos
Sokratis found himself frozen out by Mikel Arteta for the first half of this season | James Chance/Getty Images

Sokratis joined the Gunners from Borussia Dortmund and although he brought plenty of passion, professionalism and experience,the writing was on the wall for the Greek defender when Mikel Arteta took charge.

Will probably be looked back on as a ‘stop-gap’ signing and returned to his home country to join Olympiacos.

Arguably his greatest ever signing, the capture of Thierry Henry proved to be an Arsene Wenger masterstroke
Arguably his greatest ever signing, the capture of Thierry Henry proved to be an Arsene Wenger masterstroke | SINEAD LYNCH/Getty Images

Arguably Arsenal’s greatest ever player, Thierry Henry went on to become the club’s highest ever goalscorer.

He could do it all; score goals, create opportunities for others, dribble past opponents with ease and only enhanced his legendary status when he returned to the club on loan in 2012 for a short spell.

The Russian signed for the club from Zenit St. Petersburg on deadline day in January 2009
The Russian signed for the club from Zenit St. Petersburg on deadline day in January 2009 | GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

A player blessed with wonderful technical ability, Andrey Arshavin famously scored four goals for Arsenal at Anfield and netted the winner against Barcelona in the Champions League to send the Emirates wild.

Another cult hero from whom the supporters saw glimpses of brilliance but the reality is he probably struggled with the physical side of the Premier League.

Arsenal signed the French forward from Bordeaux in August 2000
Arsenal signed the French forward from Bordeaux in August 2000 | Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Famed for scoring that goal at Old Trafford in 2002, Sylvain Wiltord etched his name into every Arsenal history book that night.

Scored 49 goals for the club during his spell in north London and is fondly remembered by the club’s faithful.

Santi Cazorla faced a career threatening injury during the end of his Arsenal career but is back playing football again in the Qatar Stars League
Santi Cazorla faced a career threatening injury during the end of his Arsenal career but is back playing football again in the Qatar Stars League | Michael Regan/Getty Images

The epitome of technical excellence, Santi Cazorla was a magician and one of the few genuinely two-footed players to grace the Emirates Stadium pitch.

His low centre of gravity and ability to pull off outrageous passes, as well as control the ball effortlessly in difficult situations, made him a joy to watch, and he was a two-time FA Cup winner.

Newly signed and former Sevilla striker,
Jose Antonio Reyes sadly passed away in a car accident in 2019 | NICOLAS ASFOURI/Getty Images

Signed from Sevilla, Jose Antonio Reyes showcased his talents in an Arsenal shirt on more than 100 occasions, scoring 23 goals en route to winning a Premier League and FA Cup.

Arguably never really settled though, and returned to Spain in 2006 to play out the remainder of his career. Was tragically killed in a car crash in 2019.

Lucas Perez
Sold to West Ham in 2018, Lucas Perez struggled with Premier League football | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Limited to just 21 appearances for Arsenal, Lucas Perez contributed an okay return of seven goals – but only one of those came in the Premier League.

Was very much a fringe player in north London and there wasn’t a great deal of disappointment when he was sold.

Danny Welbeck
Danny Welbeck signed for Arsenal from their old rivals Manchester United | Julian Finney/Getty Images

This transfer was perhaps the first sign that the rivalry between Arsenal and Manchester United had lost some of its edge.

Historically, Welbeck would never have been allowed to join the Gunners, and some may wish he hadn’t – given he was ravaged by injury for much of his time at the club. Did score 32 goals.

Calum Chambers, Harry Arter
Calum Chambers returned as recently as November from a cruciate ligament injury | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Signed from Southampton back in 2014, Calum Chambers was a player who many had high hopes for upon his arrival.

A centre-back by trade, he’s shown the versatility to fill in at right-back and in the midfield anchor role, spending time on loan at Middlesbrough and Fulham. Plenty left to prove.

Bernd Leno
Bernd Leno has been in excellent form of late, conceding just one goal in Arsenal’s last five Premier League fixtures | Visionhaus/Getty Images

Signed from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2018 for £22.5m, Bernd Leno’s Arsenal performances to date suggest the Gunners landed a very capable goalkeeper.

Held off competition from Emiliano Martinez after injury and effectively retired Petr Cech.

Gabriel Magalhaes
Gabriel has impressed so far since arriving from Lille in the summer | Julian Finney/Getty Images

Signed from Lille for £23.4m aged just 22, the pressure is on Gabriel Magalhaes to return the good times to Arsenal.

A player signed for the long haul, and one who looks very capable.

Kieran Tierney
Kieran Tierney is a fitness doubt ahead of Arsenal’s clash with Manchester United this weekend. | Visionhaus/Getty Images

Undoubtedly one of Arsenal’s standout players since he arrived from Celtic, Kieran Tierney has shown he’s a class act in multiple positions.

If he can remain injury free, the hard as nails Scot could go on to become a club legend.

Lucas Torreira
Lucas Torreira celebrating a goal in a north London derby | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Lucas Torreira was one of the hottest properties in Italian football when he signed for Arsenal, but struggled to settle in the capital.

Shipped off on loan to Atletico Madrid, where things haven’t worked out either, so who knows what the future holds.

William Saliba wasn't registered to play for Arsenal in the first-half of the season
William Saliba wasn’t registered to play for Arsenal in the first-half of the season | Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Hailed as an important player for the future, Arsenal are yet to get any kind of return on £27m signing William Saliba.

Sent back on loan to Saint-Etienne and Nice to further his education, with a view to establishing himself as a Gunners stalwart for years to come.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Henrikh Mkhitaryan joined the club as part of the deal that saw Alexis Sanchez move to Old Trafford | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Although Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s move to Arsenal was portrayed as a simple swap deal, the monetary value placed on his exchange with Alexis Sanchez was an identical £30.6m.

The Armenian had huge shoes to fill and, unfortunately for the Gunners, he never lived up to the expectation.

Shkodran Mustafi
Shkodran Mustafi is understood to be in talks with the club over the early termination of his contract | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

A World Cup winner with Germany, the signing of Shkodran Mustafi promised much at the time.

But his inconsistent form and tendency to make key errors quickly eroded any good will with Arsenal’s supporters, and he’s widely regarded as an expensive mistake.

Alexis Sanchez
Alexis Sanchez signed from Barcelona and was a hit at the Emirates Stadium right from the very start | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Signed in 2014, Alexis Sanchez scored an impressive 80 goals in just 166 Arsenal appearances. Add to that, he provided his teammates with 45 assists and was part of two FA Cup successes, so you can understand why he was adored in north London.

Like many before him, however, he didn’t feel the club’s ambitions matched his own and forced a move away to Manchester United in January 2018.

Granit Xhaka
Xhaka was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy in November 2019 after he reacted to fan criticism | Pool/Getty Images

Granit Xhaka is one of the most controversial Arsenal players of modern times.

Criticised for his performances for weeks and months, the Swiss snapped in front of his own fans – an incident which saw him stripped of the club captaincy. Miraculously recovered and is still an Arsenal player to this day.

Mesut Ozil signed from Real Madrid back in 2013
Mesut Ozil signed from Real Madrid back in 2013 | Clive Rose/Getty Images

The excitement around the signing of Mesut Ozil was unlike anything that had ever been seen before at Arsenal.

For the first few years, he was absolutely brilliant – setting assists record and generally playing like a baller. But it all went wrong, and after being isolated and outcast, he eventually left for Fenerbahce on a free transfer.

Thomas Partey
Thomas Partey has struggled with injuries since signing for Arsenal | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Arsenal triggered Ghanaian midfielder Thomas Partey’s £45m release clause on deadline day of the summer 2020 transfer window.

A transformative midfielder, it’s clear that if Partey can steer clear of injury, he can add the kind of solidarity to Arsenal’s midfield they’ve been missing since Patrick Vieira’s departure.

Alexandre Lacazette
Alexandre Lacazette is currently playing some of the best football of his Arsenal career to date | Pool/Getty Images

When you sign a striker for almost £50m, you probably expect goals, goals and a load more goals. But for Alexandre Lacazette, that’s never really been the case at Arsenal.

His form is patchy, his consistency invisible – but he is bloody good at linking up with others and helping them to shine bright.

Aubameyang has struggled to score goals as frequently this season
Aubameyang has struggled to score goals as frequently this season | Visionhaus/Getty Images

If goals are what you need, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has long been the man to call at Arsenal.

Clinical wherever he’s been, the Gunners captain is the reliable source that everybody looks to for inspiration, and god only knows what would have happened to the club were he not there to steer the ship.

Nicolas Pepe
Nicolas Pepe has struggled to live up to his price tag so far | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Arsenal, allegedly, didn’t have a whole load of money in their 2019 bank, but they still found enough in their reserves to cough up £72m – eventually – for Lille winger Nicolas Pepe.

Money spent? Not at this moment in time, but there’s plenty of time for the Ivorian to prove his many doubters wrong.