Exactly How Shrewd Is Wenger In The Transfer Market?

Since Arsene Wenger came to the helm of Arsenal Football Club in 1996, we have seen an influx of foreign players into the English Premier League. Wenger is renowned for bringing players like Vieira, Henry, Petit, Overmars, and Pires etc to the club, who were relative unknowns at the time and managed to turn them into Premier League and club legends. Of course they were the glory days for Arsenal, since then times have changed, new competition from Oil Tycoon backed Chelsea and Man City has tested Arsenal’s resolve in the Transfer Market.

In the last 7 seasons Wenger has signed a total of 36 players for a total of approximately £182.3m, compare that to Manchester United who have signed a total of 34 players in the same period for a total of £265.2m. When you think about it, 36 players in 7 years seems like an awful lot, but when you actually take a look, a lot of the signings are actually youth prospects signed from young for next to nothing.

The purpose of this article is to investigate how shrewd Arsene Wenger and Arsenal actually are in the transfer market, and how successful the last 36 signings have actually been. Compiled below is a list of all 36 signings within the last 7 seasons and I have worked out whether that signing has been a good one based on performances, appearances and value for money in terms of the fee and wages paid for the player. All ratings are done on a scale of 1-10 and are my own opinion, so therefore of course up for debate.


Player Fee Paid Apps Goals Rating
O’Ceaurill £0 0 0 4
Merida Undisc 16 2 5
Song £1m 215 10 8
Gallas Swap 140 16 8
Denilson £3.4m 153 11 6
Fabianski £2m 62 0 6
Barazite £0 3 0 5
Eduardo £7.5m 67 22 7
Nasri £15.8m 125 27 8
Ramsey £5m 127 10 6
Freeman £0.2m 0 0 4
Diarra £4m 13 0 6
Sagna £6m 218 4 9
Bischoff Undisc 4 0 4
Silvestre £0.75m 43 3 5
Arshavin £15m 142 31 6
Vermaelen £10m 115 15 7
Galindo £0 0 0 Reserved Judgement
S.Campbell £0 14 1 6
Chamakh £0 67 14 5
Ebecilio £0.5m 0 0 Reserved Judgement
Koscielny £10m 100 8 8
Squillaci £4m 40 2 4
Miyaichi Undisc 2 0 Reserved Judgement
Jenkinson £1m 29 0 7
Gervinho £10.6m 51 9 4
Chamberlain £12m 45 6 8
J.Campbell £0.95m 0 0 Reserved Judgement
Park Chu Young £3m 6 1 3
Santos £6.2m 26 3 4
Arteta £10m 63 10 8
Mertesacker £10m 49 1 8
Eisfeld £0.4m 1 0 Reserved Judgement
Podolski £11m 24 9 7
Giroud £13m 26 9 7
Cazorla £16m 25 7 8


As you can see there are 5 of those signings I have seen nothing of and are still at the club, but on loan elsewhere, so I have reserved Judgement on those players for the purpose of this study. As for this seasons signings I have given them a rating based on their first 6 months at the club, which of course may change over the course of their Arsenal careers, just like any other player on the list.

So that leaves 31 signings who I have given an /10 rating to – The figures work out to be.

Rating of 7+    –           14        45%

Rating of 6      –           6          19%

Rating of 5      –           4          13%

Rating of 4-     –           7          23%


So in essence just under half of Wenger’s signings in the last 7 seasons have been a rating of at least 7/10 in my opinion. So the next question to ask is whether that is actually a good statistic. The only way to find out is to compare to another Club. I have chosen Manchester United and have done the same thing as I have done with Arsenal. Instead of doing a detailed list like I have done with Arsenal I will just list all the players I believe to be good signings (min 7+ rating) by Manchester United in the last 7 seasons.

Powell, Kagawa, Van Persie, Buttner, Jones, De Gea, Smalling, Hernandez, Lindegaard, Valencia, Berbatov, Tevez, Nani, Kuszczak, Anderson, Rafael and Carrick.

That is a total of 17 players from 31 eligible, meaning players I feel comfortable to place judgement on what I have seen of that player. So out of Sir Alex Ferguson’s 31 signings 55% have been what I would call a good signing, compared to that of 45% from Arsene Wenger. 10% may not seem a lot, but in the grand scheme of things that works out to be about 3 players, 3 good players which the majority of Arsenal fans may say we’re missing from really mounting a challenge at the top of the table.

Not only has Ferguson signed players who have had a bigger impact than Wenger but Ferguson has also signed less players who have failed to make an impact, players now that Wenger is struggling to get rid of to free up some of the wage bill. Of course it is easy for me to sit here at a computer throwing up facts and figures and coming to the conclusion that I have done, however whatever way you twist it, the signings Wenger has made in the last 7 seasons have not been good enough, and the signings who have been good, we have not had enough of them, as opposed to teams like Manchester United who have done a far better job of signing players who’ve made a better impact.

Some may say Manchester United have spent more money on the signings so therefore they have a better chance of being successful signings. However in the last 7 years, the only signings Manchester United have made above the £20m mark (which seems to be Arsenal’s boundary at the moment, unless a player like Hazard comes available) have been of Van Persie and Berbatov, so apart from those two players Manchester United have spent similar amounts of money to that of Arsenal.

Now just for some observations on things that Arsene Wenger has done well. Whenever Wenger has spent a considerable amount of money, the player tends to be of good quality and has a good impact at the club. Wenger has spent £5m+ 15 times in the last 7 seasons and 11 of those signings have made a good impact at the club. Also Wenger’s record of spending over £10m on a player in the last 7 seasons is also particularly impressive. 9 out of the 11 signings Wenger has spent £10m+ on have also gone on to make a good impact at the club, the only downers have been Gervinho and Arshavin, the latter whom I have incredible respect for his talent but he just hasn’t shown me enough in his time here to warrant being called a good signing.

Wenger’s coups from France in the last 7 years have also been very notable; players such as Koscielny, Sagna, Song, Nasri and Giroud were all signed from France. Something we have seen more of within the last 7 seasons has been Wenger’s intent to sign from the Premier League. No less than 10 of the 36 signings in the last 7 years have been from signed from clubs in England, something we hadn’t seen that often from Wenger in the first half of his tenure.

The problem Arsenal now have is that some of the poorer players Wenger has signed in the past 7 years still remain at the club on wages of £50k a week plus. Whereas some of the better players we had signed have now moved on elsewhere. Players like Chamakh, Squillaci, Park, Santos and Gervinho were bought for about £24m altogether and probably are on wages of about £250k a week collectively. That is a lot of money to be spending on deadwood and is money Arsenal can’t afford to be throwing down the drain on below than adequate players.

Hopefully we will see a new outlook from Wenger into the Transfer Market, the three signings this season have looked good so far and it looks as though we are at least trying to get rid of the deadwood at the club, hopefully freeing up some cash for some better players to come in and improve Wenger’s record of bringing good players in the club to a level we’ll feel much more comfortable at.

Thanks for reading

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3 thoughts on “Exactly How Shrewd Is Wenger In The Transfer Market?

  1. Good article, thanks.

    One thing: it is fair to say that the deadwood players get huge salaries, but why is it the case? Mainly because they arrived to the team only hours before the transfer windows closed. Wenger was desperate to maintain the balance regarding the quantity of the players in the squad, so in order to save time and make sure that these players join Arsenal he gave extraordinary offer for the ‘targets’.

    Rather than talking about wages, I am curious why Arsenal are offering long term contracts for them. Wenger knows that it’s very risky to sign a 28 y/o player on a four year long contract, especially from i.e. the Turkish league. Why don’t we offer only a 2 year long contract with option to extend if the player performs well? Now, we’ve got to see them until their contracts expire, but until then not only will we lose points in the league when they play, but we will lose out on securing potential better newcomers as we are unable to offload the deadwoods.

  2. Well thought out blog but I don’t agree. I think you should only consider players who have made at least one first team appearance (EPL, FA, CL – the COC shouldn’t really count as that has only really been taken seriously in the past 2 seasons).

    Also, players like Freeman, Ebecilio, Galindo, Barazite and Merida we’re all signed on youth contracts and not all of our youths are signed by Wenger, he has a team for that.
    You’ve also included Sol Campbell but not Lehmann so maybe he shouldn’t be considered either or discounted because he was a short-term signing to ease an injury crisis and rating an ageing player is a bit unfair.

    Other players like Ramsey, Arshavin and Diarra have been unfairly rated in my opinion. Ramsey was excellent pre-leg break and he came back into his first full premier league season with the weight of replacing Fabregas and had to then contend with a loss of form and fitness to compound the fans unhappiness at Jack being injured and unfairly comparing Rambo to Jack when they are completely different and he was then made captain of his country and had to carry the weight of a nation on his young shoulders and to top matters off his mentor, national manager and idol committed suicide. All of that has to be taken into consideration when judging Ramsey and then you also have to consider the impact the fans have on his performance when they boo him every week. Hardly the sort of situation that inspires great form. If you are going to judge him then judge him on his potential, not on a bad season made worse by the weight of expectation. People forget that Fabregas had Vieira, Edu, Parlour and Gilberto to help him develop without too much expectation. Ramsey doesn’t have that luxury.

    Arshavin too is unfairly rated because he is supremely talented but he is lazy at times. That cannot be Wenger’s fault. Based on talent alone and his goals and assists record at Arsenal he is worth at least a 7. Diarra is unfairly rated because he forced his way out of the club because he was too impatient to wait. Based on his Pompey performances and performances for Real Madrid he too is worth a 7. Wenger cannot be blamed for his attitude or demands.
    Chamakh is probably not a 7 but 5 is a tad stingy because he was excellent when he first joined but lost his place and then struggled to cope with our slight change in system when he was expected to play with his back to goal. He is a victim of formation.

    Bischoff was a short term signing to see if he could reach his potential. He quickly showed his injury had finished him and Wenger cut his losses. A risk worth taking that didn’t pay off so I don’t think he should be considered either. Gervinho, Santos, Squillaci and Chu-Young weren’t good signings but in Wenger’s defence, Gervinho was sensational in Ligue 1 but hasn’t been able to make the step up. Sometimes these things don’t work, that’s not Wenger’s fault, that is the players fault. Santos hasn’t been great but he’s had his moments too, not entirely a bad player, just not suited to us. Squillaci’s CV was superb before he joined us and on paper he was a good signing but he also didn’t adapt to the league. Wenger cannot be blamed for that either but keeping him for so long does merit him being called a bad signing. Chu-Young I have no idea why we signed him. No excuse for not playing him or for signing him with no intent to play him.

    So if we take out Freeman, Galindo, Bischoff, Ebecilio, Barazite, Merdia and Campbell Wenger only “signed” 29 players. Bump Diarra and Arshavin up to 7’s as well and you have 16 players out of 29 who make the 7+ mark which gives Wenger 55% also.

    Clearly United have been the better team but for the first 3 years of those 7 we can put it down to inexperience and since then we have been unable to keep a team together or our best players year on year.

    I don’t think we’ve been signing a large amount of bad players, just not enough players to add something we are missing but United have in abundance and that is winning mentality.
    I think since last summer we’ve signed a number of winners but now we lack creativity because of a lack of cohesion. We can always say “next year” will be different but I fear that unless we win something soon it won’t be. Hopefully we can put ourselves on the road to that first trophy with a win tomorrow against Swansea.

    Sorry for the mega comment, take it as a compliment as I’ve almost written as much for you as I have for my own blog!

    Great blog today mate (even if I disagreed), keep it up.

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