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August 2021

“Arsenal never buy proven players”. Well, not quite…

By Tony Attwood

Arsenal’s transfer of Yaya Sanogo on a free (as he had let his last contract run down) was met with a torrent of abuse from a number of members of the AAA writing to the BBC web site.

They basically made the point that Mr Wenger was once again buying in young players, and that all the talk about buying in established players was nonsense and misleading.  Arsenal don’t do that and should stop misleading season ticket holders by saying that they do.

There was much talk of Mr Wenger’s prejudice against spending money, the fact that the club were not going to spend any money and commentary on the fact that we have never spent money.

Leaving aside the obvious nonsense of this over time (the AAA tending to forget that Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and the rest came in after Arsenal paid transfer fees) there is another point – a point which seemingly no one wanted to consider.

But let’s try.  I may have missed someone here but it seems to me that our most recent transfers in have been:

Yaya Sanogo – free

Nacho Monreal age 27 from Málaga CF – quoted at £8.8m

Santi Cazorla age 27 from Málaga CF – quoted at £16.7m

Lukas Podolski aged 27 from 1.FC Cologne quoted at £10.5m

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Olivier Giroud aged 25 from Montpellier, quoted at £10.5m


That’s £46.5m over last January’s transfer window, and the one a year ago.Now of course members of the AAA might have a case to say that Arsenal buy the wrong players.

I don’t think that this has been shown at all with these purchases but at least one could try and make the argument perhaps by saying that they were all rubbish, or that they were worth far less than we paid.

But what you can’t do is say that Arsenal has not been buying players of late.(My own view for what its worth is that all of them have been a success in their first season or half season, and that given their ages we can expect a huge amount more from them this season.

What is so interesting with the line of AAA destructive commentary that is currently being used is that it flies in the face of all facts, and yet many people go on arguing the point as if there were some facts to back it up.

This really brings to an end any sort of debate in the normal sense of the word. I say the sun appears to be yellow when viewed from Earth, and they say no it’s green.  From here on there can be no debate at all.

Quite often when this debate comes up the AAA then change the subject totally.  They say, but we have so many players that we don’t need.  Yes, I would agree, and that happens with all major clubs, because spotting a brilliant player is not easy, and players do not always develop as one would hope.

If this argument were to be undertaken properly you would need to compare the number of players who are being moved on by Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City.

So yes we can say that we have lost Djourou, Angha, Ebecilio, Wynter, Hajrovic, Meede, Rees, Roberts, Shea, Denilson, Squillaci, Eastmond, Monteiro, Bihmoutine, Henderson, Neita, Watt, Charles-Cook, and Arshavin.  I think I read that Mannone had gone too.

I understand that the Bendtner move is on its way too.  (I’ve probably missed someone here, but you get the idea).  But I think this is a fairly normal turnover of players.  (Looking at one of the web sites that tries to chart all the comings and goings, I make it that Man U got rid of 29 players last season, but I may have miscounted that).

The press of course love this sort of hatred thrown against the club by people who pretend to be supporters, and they feed it with their stories that Arsenal need a new centre forward, a new central defender, a new goalkeeper, and a new defensive midfielder.

But what you do have to remember here is that this is one story-teller’s line, written both to fill space and to get some people highly exercised.

Personally I think that he team that delivered fourth position last season with four players coming straight into the first team squad, is bound to improve without any further purchases.  But I expect there to be further purchases which will improve the situation still further.

3 July Anniversaries

  • 3 July 1925: Charles Buchan re-signed by Arsenal in £100/goal deal
  • 3 July 1966: George Eastham scored for England in final international
  • 3 July 1995: Dennis Bergkamp signs for £7.5m – a record

The books…

The sites from the same team…

55 comments to “Arsenal never buy proven players”. Well, not quite…

  • Ed kae

    If you think the team that finished 4 th last season will do so again without further additions considering everyone else is improving their squads, you must be drinking something strange or simply in denial. Stop buying into this Wenger crap. It fans like you don’t really want to win anything.

  • Andy Mack

    We have too many ‘simple minded’ supporters that think a ‘proven player’ can only come from Inter, AC, Juve, Real, Barca, Bayern, Dortmund, the PL or be plastered over the sports page of the newspaper. If they don’t fit into the above, how can they be any good…..

  • Andy Mack

    And Ed Kae proves my point!

  • Peter Sati

    i personally seem to have a problem with Mr Wenger he is never a serious guy when it comes to buying real and i say real players who able to with stand the storm of EPL

  • Kevin Copeman

    It’s ‘fans’ like Ed Kae that don’t want Arsenal to win anything so they can keep moaning.

  • Matt

    All fans want to see is a competitive team with a chance of competing. We are charged top prices so it’s fair to expect some top players at the club and to be competing with other clubs on the pitch and in the transfer window.

    The author of this piece is obsessed with what he calls the AAA and mentions them constantly in his articles to the point where he probably should seek some help for it.

    It’s fine to be pro and positive but you lose credibility if your not honest.

  • And you’re losing your credibility if you’re incapable of properly using “your” and “you’re.”

    Well, at least the Wenger Outers can no longer honestly say he doesn’t spend some (freaking) money.

  • Bootoomee

    It is all about trophies for these low achieving simpletons. Always remember that this is what their grouse is always about.

  • Asif

    @Matt/Ed – you have no idea what you talking about…!!! Wenger know Best…yes he does!

  • Matt

    The net spend over the last 10 years proves he doesn’t spend very much money.

    You love stats on here look at the stats.

  • Stroller

    And so the transfer rumour carousel spins faster and faster. Today it is being ‘reported’ that we are battling Spurs for two Croats (who I’ve never heard of before) for a joint fee of over 20 million. Apparently one of them is the ‘new Luca Modric’ which probably means that after a couple of years he will demand a move to Real Madrid.

    But that’s not all. Now we want 32-year old of Gareth Barry from Man City. Barry’s contract is up next year and he apparently wants regular first team football to help secure a World Cup place. Oh, he also happens to be on 100k per week. Sounds like a match made in heaven…..

  • MikeSA

    I think the point is that while money has indeed been spent on some excellent players, the club has also sold too many of our good players either to cover the cost of those brought in, or because they had little choice.
    Personally, for me the issue was who van Persie was sold to. There isn’t an excuse on the planet that gets past that. It was simply unacceptable, and yes, they could have sold him elsewhere.
    I think what most reasonable fans would like to see is some intention to do a bit better than strive for fourth place, so some money spent on “top, top players” without trying to balance the books by selling off the family silver is what most are looking for.
    Personally, all I want to see is some effort to compete. I don’t buy the “n” years without a trophy rubbish, as long as we try to compete as best we can, that’s all I ask. I just don’t agree that we have really been competing to the best of our abilities in recent times.
    And I do agree with those criticizing the “AAA” rubbish, it’s just as childish as the “AKB” drivel.

  • Arsenal only needs a defensive mdfielder. Giroud will come good so will Podolski because their first season was good and they will score more this season and Walcott and Carzola will also score more goals. so we have 4 attacking players that can score 15 to 20 goals or more a season and multiply that by 4. Wenger doesn’t want Arsenal to depend on one goal scorer as with Van-Persie, that makes the team vulnerable, example when Balotelli was injured in the confederation cup and flew back home, Italy team was weak as we all saw they lost many goal chances upon chances against Spain. Give Joel Campbell and Sanogo another season, and there are other young players knocking on the first team places in the senior squad. So we don’t need to go overboard with signings, all we need is for the team to play every game as they did in the last 10 games last season. We will come good.

  • Mick

    I too was dismayed that RVP was sold to Man U but you say..
    ‘and yes, they could have sold him elsewhere.’ This is a highly presumptuous statement, unless of course you are privy to what goes on within the clubs transfer dealings. Please tell us to whom he could have been sold and for how much and how you know this information to be true?

  • What did Man City win last season with their established and household name players last season ? NOTHING !! You can sign the Cavanis and Ronaldos of this world if the team doesn’t work hard and play as a team they ‘ill win nothing. We saw how the talented and skilful Brazilian team worked their socks off defensively to teach the so called European Champions ( Spain ) how football is played not the tippy tappy boring way as Barca and Spain teams do. Football is a team game not an individual game.

  • ian

    MikeSA / Mick

    We may have been able to sell Van P elsewhere and like you I do not have the detail. As I recall the only other club looking to pay as much as Man U was Man C, so same problem had he gone to another PL club.

    Had he gone abroad (I think Juve were linked) and I very much doubt we would have got the same money (£10m I think was being touted at the time).

    It was hard to swallow but is done now and at the time I would have rather we made him see out his contract with us. Had we done that he would be leaving on a free now and possibly to another PL club, am not sure how I would be feeling now if that was the case. And who knows what we might have achieved had he stayed.

    £24m is a lot of money, but I think the true winner in all of this was Van P, 4 year contract at 29 years of age worth £10m a year to him. Time will tell if Man U get there full value.

  • GoonerDog

    Yawn!….haters….AAA….Wenger knows best….blah blah blah ….yawn!

  • AL

    Some so-called fans really amaze me, its only a couple of days into the transfer window and they are already moaning about lack of signings. Calm down, there’s still a full 2 months before the window shuts. And like Tony has gone to pains explaining above, our last 4 signings in the last 18 months have all been proven internationals. And if you add another 6 months to that the list will include peple like Per & Arteta, who were the mainstay of the side last season. Facts also back us up when we say we were the best side in the second half of the season, but to some people as long as no player over £20m is signed then that’s classed as failure.

    You might think they have not been watching what has been happening at Chelsea & Liverpool. They ridicule Wenger’s signings as unknowns who are hopeless yet these are the same players that move on for fees around £20m+ when they leave. If they’re that rubbish then why do these other so-called highly ambitious willing to break the bank and buy them from us for that much? We have sold players to City, Barcelona, Utd, Milan, etc, all top clubs which just shows that AW’s signings really are that good. If they are that rubbish then AW is the greatest con artist this world has ever seen then.

  • MIKE

    If not always agreeing with every decision made at the club makes me a AAA then so be it. Frankly I must have a thinker skin then you apparently as I do not take someone having a different opinion or saying my opinion is wrong as a person insult.
    IF you rave about every Arsenal player as the greatest that leaves little room to really give proper respect to the truly great ones.

    Arsenal has had some truly talented footballers that not only are Arsenal legends but Footballing legends. The likes of Bergkamp and Henry are players you do not see every day.

    And it is also not easy to know just which player is the next Bergkamp or will turn out to be the next Bendtner. So I know it is not a simple issue to find then sign a great player. And any truly great player that is well know or at least rated highly around the world of football is NOT going to come cheap and may also be a bust.

    Ask City about how a big signing can also be a Big waste of money. Remember Robinho they were hoping for next Ronaldinho what they got was a spoiled brat that once he got the big money did not want to work. a Great talent yes but did he become a great legend NO. Bought for 42million in 2008 had a 14 goal season then sent on loan in jan 2010 to santos then sold for 15million just 2 seasons after being signed. Not exactly a great piece of business.

    So I do agree Arsenal should not be going out and spending what ever to get the next hyper bowl player. The big money spenders have had as many misses as hit with their big spending. BUT… the fact is to get top talent in this day and age of world football where a everyone around the globe with a satellite TV can view just about any league around the world any promising young talent is going to be very well known and their club no matter how small will be asking big money. They may be the next legend they could also be the next over hyped prima dona. BUT sometimes you have to spend the money to find out as in poker if you want to see my cards you have to meet the bid.
    Will What Barca spent on Neymar win them another league title or CL final? or even a few or will Neymar get to spain on his big salary and party all night and fade away as a what could have been. Time will tell.

    But no one would say at this point had Arsenal have a had any shot (which I doubt they did Neymar had only 2 clubs in mind when thinking of european glory and that was RM or Barca) of signing Neymar that they should have meet what ever it took to sign him.

    BUT that is Naymar what of Mata? or Spuds new signing Paulinho these are more realistic signings Arsenal could have made and Mata with chelsea showed he is the real deal. And if his performance against Spain in the Confed. Cup final is a indication Spuds have themselves a quality signing?

    And why do so many Arsenal fans get upset when Arsenal sell a player like Ashley Cole then groom a replacement in Clichy (instead of buying a ready made proven replacement) and after Arsenal finally grooms him as a decent Left back agree to sell him to City and again be left with the young Gibbs as a replacement.
    That is the most infuriating problem over the past years is losing top talent then putting hope on young talent (And yes I had real hope for the young squad we had I really felt they could have won the league in time) BUT we kept loosing key parts of that squad after years of constant rebuilding and putting faith in young players (often with injury problems but we stuck by them) Only to have those players thumb their nose at the Arsenal badge to seek a big payday. Or themselves loosing faith in their own clubs ability to win. (RVP went to ManU supposedly to win trophies)

    So I ask you if the players themselves that we as fans put faith in have no faith in the team or loyalty to the club then why should we as fans UNLESS the players earn that faith from US.

    Take Jack Wilshere the most Hyped young English player since Rooney. Is he Good? Sure he is he looks to be a very talented young player IS he GREAT yet? well lets see he wears the number 10 right well that is a number given to GOAL scorers and Play makers is it not? so how many assist and goals has he produced? about the same a top EPL defensive mids thats not good enough for a Number 10 sorry.
    (Yaya Toure has more assists AND more goals)
    So if you asked me today if I was going to make a squad list and could choose ANY player in the EPL for that first 11 would I include Jack? Sorry I would have to say NO. Does that mean I do not think he is a good player no it just means there are Better more mature players that are better at this time then him. Could he become one of the greatest players in the EPL of course he has all the potential BUT everyone talks about him as if he already IS one of the greatest in the EPL and that is the problem.
    And in fact over half of Arsenals first 11 would be left out of that dream squad first 11. At one time we actually had a Dream squad that if you asked me the same question in 2003/04 maybe 1 or 2 players from another team I might pick over Arsenal’s fist 11 for a dream team today it is the opposite I would maybe keep only 1 or 2 of Arsenal’s first 11.

    I like what I am hearing so far about the signings this summer and I likes a few of the signings from last summer. But we are still a have a long way to go to repair the damage of the past seasons. It is NOT the failure to buy big names that bothers me as we were building some quality young players but we could not keep them. and that is what got us to this state where Arsenal is struggling some 15 points off teh league leader hoping to fend off Spurs for that last CL spot. Instead of battling for FIRST against ManU and City.

  • WalterBroeckx

    LOL Tony sorry but some will never get it 🙂 🙂

    I just find it funny for the moment. Maybe because I’m just in a good mood or so 🙂

    Some of the comments are comedy gold after reading the article

  • The Awenger

    Mannone gone! And spuds sign paulinho. I guess Cesar or some other keeper is making their way to the emirates!

  • A. Stewart

    Actually, the irony of this discussion is, that when Wenger used to win things at Arsenal..

    His teams were overwhelmingly filled with experienced players (aigned and inherited) that had won all sorts of things all over including the biggest prizes in club and international football all BEFORE working with Wenger at AFC (world cups, euros, champions leagues uefa cups and other eufa trophies, world club championships, ACNs, olympic golds, league/cup wins in Italy, Scotland, England, France, Germany, Brazil, Netherlands etc. ) and many players had individual honours in their respective leagues, POY, goalkeeper of year etc all before working with Wenger at AFC. Along with previous experience winning, the teams were filled with generally older more experienced players than what we’ve seen in recent years, and players having played in big leagues etc.

    Those teams were balanced with very limited youngsters, who themselves often either: won big prizes before and/or were at big elite clubs before and/or were wanted by the biggest clubs around at the time. And also balanced with solid veteran squad pros.

    The funny thing is Wenger NEVER won at AFC without his teams being heavily skewed towards proven players. It’s a myth that he won via largely uneathing unknowns.

    Frankly I wish we would go back to teams littered with already proven players (who also were on average much physically bigger than what we’ve seen in recent seasons)…That’s the only way Wenger has won at AFC.

  • ani

    Done deal!!! arsenal fc have completed the signing of gonzalo iguaine. wow! wat a signing

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Just give us some time. We’ll be there.

  • nicky

    Here we are only in Day 3 of the Transfer Window and already the doom and gloom merchants have emerged from underneath their stones, spewing their bile.
    Records are searched, statistics are produced and facts are quoted, all in an effort to discredit Arsene Wenger.
    Before the Window closes, I forecast that signings will have been completed and the moaners will have gone back into hibernation to await their next opportunity to express anti-Arsenal opinion.

  • Meditation
    SKY SPORTS? Have a look at this classic Matthew syed on chelsea. Must watch if you havent seen chelsea and sky sport presenters looking out of their depth and being shown up for it

  • AL

    A Stewart
    “Frankly I wish we would go back to teams littered with already proven players (who also were on average much physically bigger than what we’ve seen in recent seasons)…That’s the only way Wenger has won at AFC.”

    Really? Did you know who Anelka was before he joined Arsenal? Or Kolo Toure, or Vieira? Even though Thierry had won the WC with France, albeit as a bit-part player, wasn’t he deemed to have failed to make the grade at Juventus, before AW turned him into a superstar. You guys need to be objective, and not just twist facts to support your argument.

    “That is the most infuriating problem over the past years is losing top talent then putting hope on young talent (And yes I had real hope for the young squad we had I really felt they could have won the league in time) BUT we kept loosing key parts of that squad after years of constant rebuilding and putting faith in young players (often with injury problems but we stuck by them) Only to have those players thumb their nose at the Arsenal badge to seek a big payday. Or themselves loosing faith in their own clubs ability to win.”

    You have the answer in there somewhere, where you say they leave Arsenal to seek a big payday. Thats all it is mate, thats the only reason we have lost all these players in the last few years. All of them, except maybe Fabregas who wanted to go back home. If you believe any of the other players left Arsenal for any other reason apart from money then you can believe anything. How do you expect Arsenal to compete with clubs like City, Chelsea, PSG or Monaco? Its simply not possible. Even those who can, like Madrid, still find it hard to keep up with these rich clubs at times.

    Excuse my crude analogy but football players today have become like girls; the guys with the fattest bank balances will always get all the good looking girls over the good guys with less money, regardless of how nasty or ugly the rich guys look or behave. And that’s a fact of life. No use crying over it coz you cant change that.

  • AL

    Sorry the last post was meant for MIKE, not mick.

  • Gunz

    @A. Stewart
    “His teams were overwhelmingly filled with experienced players (aigned and inherited) that had won all sorts of things all over including the biggest prizes in club and international football all BEFORE working with Wenger at AFC (world cups, euros, champions leagues uefa cups and other eufa trophies, world club championships, ACNs, olympic golds, league/cup wins in Italy, Scotland, England, France, Germany, Brazil, Netherlands etc. ) and many players had individual honours in their respective leagues, POY, goalkeeper of year etc all before working with Wenger at AFC.”

    Any chance you can back your statement, with player names with their winnings,honours,etc..?Links please?

  • Meditation
    SKY SPORTS? Have a look at this classic Matthew syed on chelsea. Must watch if you havent seen chelsea and sky sport presenters looking out of their depth and being shown up for it

  • Lanz

    Asif, can you imagine the heartache Wenger saved us pulling out of the Sahin deal that Liverpool jumped into? They regretted it!! Yet, people blamed Wenger for helping us mange our money well.

  • FunGunner

    @ Tony
    It’s good that you can be bothered to refute the sillier claims of the AAA, but as you can see from some of the comments, you are wasting your time.

    @ Matt
    No point in looking at stats if you don’t understand them. A net transfer spend of £10 million means we have spent £10 million *more* than we recouped in sales. So we could have spent £100m and received £90m, or spent £11m and recouped £1m. Anyway, it’s not big spending but smart spending which is the key to maximising the value you get from your transfer dealings. We are very good at smart spending.

    @ Mike SA
    We had a massive debt and had to reduce the wage bill. This meant selling players who were mature but who would not be starters and replacing them with young players who would be paid less than the men they replaced, and would be starters. We could not afford BOTH Flamini and Gilberto, for example, unless Gilberto took a wage cut in his new contract. Flamini was playing, Gilberto wasn’t.
    At a time when wages were increasing exponentially throughout the league, there was very little extra money going into the wage and transfer budget. The expected windfall from the property profits was smaller than hoped and took longer to realise because of the property crash in 2008. That was why we had to operate on a one in, one out, basis. Player costs shot up so it cost more to buy or keep a player even without going up a level in terms of talent.

    As to the Dutch skunk, we could not have sold RvP to any other club. He was determined to go there and only there. Juventus said a few months ago via a journalist that they were told by RvP’s people as a courtesy, so as not to waste their time, that he was not interested in them. Arsenal had offered them a discount of £9m on the transfer fee. NINE MILLION POUNDS. Mancini, if you recall, said at the time that City were pulling out of the race as they had been advised that the striker was going to Man United – despite offering more money to both Arsenal and RvP. He shafted us royally.

  • AL

    Well said. No matter how hard we try some people just wont get the point. At the end of it all I start questioning the intellect of anyone who fails to see the dynamics of why things have turned out the way they did, just like you articulated here. I can guarantee you there’s loads who will read your post and go another brainwashed Wenger desciple, yet the bare facts are there for anyone with a half-decent brain to see. I dont mean to be derogatory in any way but I can now see why Bootoomee has often concluded these people can’t have achieved much in their lives; failing to see the blatantly obvious like this beggars belief, it’s criminal. Even Gary Neville, a sworn enemy in years past, conceded what Wenger has done since our move to the Emirates is nothing short of a miracle. Even Gary Neville can see that!

    I recall watching a Sky documentary some 5 years back titled something like ‘The Best Premiership Manager’, and guess who won it, Wenger, with Ferguson second. And this was after he had gone about 3 or 4 years without winning anything. It couldn’t have been only Arsenal fans voting for him, becuase if that had been the case he would probably have been third or fourth, or last even. It was other fans from other clubs, no doubt some even from united included, who have not failed to see what an amazing job this man has done. And here we have some prats bleating daily about what a clueless manager he is supposed to be. Please. One word comes to mind; stupid. Simple as that. I’ll apologise to Tony, Walter & other sane readers of this blog for using such language, but I think its appropriate in this case. I think the only exception here is people who live abroad, particularly in third world countries who only rely on the distorted spin the British media feeds them. For anyone who living in Europe or some other developed nation, particularly if you live in England, you just dont have any excuse IMO.

  • A. Stewart

    @ Gunz..sure I can back up these statements as to his winning teams being littered with proven players who had won all sorts of things PRIOR to working under Wenger (be it signed or inherited) at AFC, and were seasoned internationals, many of which had played at big clubs previously. Feel free to verify these with any of the common sources soccernet, wiki whatever. So in no particular order (this is going to be long) of chronology or importance:

    Bergkamp – 1 Dutch League, 2 Dutch Cups, 1 Uefa Cup, 1 Cup winners cup with Ajax: I Uefa Cup with Inter. Too many many individual honours to list all, but they include several Dutch POYs, Euros Golden Boot, Ballon D’Or runner ups etc. Full Dutch International.

    Gilberto Silva – World Cup Winner. Full Brasil International.

    Robert Pires – 1 World Cup, 1 Euros (where he was integral), 1 French Cup, French young POY. Full French International.

    Silvan Wiltord – I Euros, I French League, French League Top Scorer & POY. Full French International.

    Sol Campbell – 1 League Cup with Spurs, several big tournaments with England (World Cup/Euros) rated as arguably the best English CB at time of signing. Full English International.

    Marc Overmars – 3 Dutch Leagues, 1 Dutch Cup, 1 Champions League, 1 Uefa Supercup and 1 Inter-Continental Cup..Dutch POY, Best Young player WC 94..Full Dutch International.

    Edu – 2 Brasilian Championships, 1 Fifa World Club Championship

    Kanu – 3 Dutch Leagues, 1 Champions League, 1 Uefa Super Cup, 1 Intercontinental Cup with Ajax; 1 Uefa Cup with Inter; U-17 World Cup, Olympic Gold Medal, African Footballer of the Year. Full Nigerian International.

    Lauren – 1 African Cup of Nations, 1 Spanish Super Cup, World Cup experience. Full Cameroon International.

    Petit – 1 French League, 1 French Cup, Full France international.

    Van Bronckhorst – 2 SPL titles, 2 Scottish Cups, Full Dutch International.

    Jens Lehman – 1 Uefa Cup, 1 Serie A, 1 Bundesliga, Uefa GK of the year. Full Dutch International.

    I decided to group these following English inherited players together for brevity: The famed English players – Seaman, Winerburn, Bould, Dixon, Adams, Keown, Parlour, Wright etc seasoned pros and internationals with several Domestic and Euro honors between them including, Uefa Cup winners cup, English First Division titles, FA Cups, League cups etc.

    Henry – 1 French League, 1 World Cup (France’s top scorer), League 1 POY. Signed from Juventus. Full French International.
    To be perfectly clear, I recognize that in many cases under Wenger several players either: improved; saved their careers; became big stars; extended careers etc. But the point is his team was littered with players that in most cases already came with pedigree, experience, with several team and individual honours under their belts, with big tournament experience, accustomed representing their countries,having played at big clubs before.

    And that doesn’t even begin to touch seasoned professionals in the squads (not star names) that were very experienced and proven at club level.

    Even younger players that he turned into big stars like Henry and Vieira were well known hot young properties before coming to AFC, having been signed from European Giants like Juventus & Milan. (yes I know Wenger “discovered” Henry at Monaco, but that still doesn’t change that he won a world cup, and domestic French honours and played for a big club, all before coming to work with Wenger at Arsenal).

    And then they were players like Ljunberg, even him came with some pedigree, while not as celebrated as some of the titles above, he himself was a League and Cup winner in Sweden, and a full international at the time, and was tracked by other big clubs such as Barcelona at the time..

    In no-way am I denigrating Wenger, actually I applaud him for assembling teams full of proven players, experienced players, and more importantly PROVEN WINNERS and blending them well with small but key amounts of younger hot shots (some still already winners with high ratings). Yes many of these players weren’t the biggest names around, but they were largely proven and well accustomed to winning things, including the biggest club and international prizes of them all.

    The accomplishments, experience, pedigree, playing at big clubs etc that players come in since the Invincibles is starkly bare in comparison.

    It’s somewhat of a myth that he built teams full of unearthed unknown gems, players like Toure, Anelka and Cole (genuine unearthed gems) and to a lesser extent Reyes (who was very highly rated and very expensive) were the vast exception to the rule of his recruitment then.

    A bit unrelated but, another commonality of his winning sides along with proven/experienced/winners for players coming in, was size. His winning teams were the tallest and heaviest in the PL, and iirc, during the Fabregas days in just 2 or 3 years we became the shortest and lightest. I wish Wenger would go back to his previous M.O. of recruitment in terms of proven quality and size, but with more competition on the block now than back then, it’s difficult and more costly.

  • A. Stewart

    At Al, I didn’t twist any facts..

    Look above at the list of accomplishments. Nor did I say EVERY player was proven before working with Wenger at AFC, but rather I said his winning teams were overwhelmingly littered with players (especially in comparison to recent winless editions) that had those “proven” qualities. There are OBVIOUSLY exceptions, which I duly and subsequently highlighted and qualified where necessary.

    And regardless, I praise Wenger endlessly and view him with nothing but positivity him for assembling those winning teams full of players who already knew about winning.

    Laslty, ironically I agree with this article, in that, it’s nonsense when people suggest Wenger never went for “proven” players before, because he did, and built his winning teams around them. However, personally I wish he would go back to that, players who know all about winning before, are invaluable.

    Though unfortunately recently and now, I feel that he values, via his own words (not verbatim or quote), growing and educating players together and letting them learn to win together for the first time and forming a unit that way, as opposed to assembling winners like he previously did.

  • Adam

    Cannot really argue with that A.Stewart. But you only seem to begrudgingly mention the likes of Toure, Anelka and Cole.

    Please remember Ashley Cole was a center forward for the majority of his younger years.

    Toure, played out wide.

    Anelka was known to most clubs (due to Clairefontaine)and Arsene did well in getting Le Sulk to our club. Thankyou for the training ground though.

    Another player I would mention is Lauren, a right sided midfielder who was against Wenger’s idea of him becoming a full-back.

    I don’t think there is a particular method of choice when it comes to Arsene deciding on a player, not that I have noticed anyway.

    It is not like a club such as Arsenal can find a totally unheard of player, in that we always sign professionals. I have not known us to sign an amateur and turn them into a World-beater, in fact I cannot think of any amateur of late that has taken the footballing World by storm. That privilege is reserved for our youth set up along with every other youth set up out there.

    Most if not all of Arsene’s signings have had international experience at some level whether it be at under 16 or 21. Even Denilson captained Brazil at every level bar the senior side, so was a good gamble.

    There are only two forms of status for footballers, Professionals and amateurs. If Arsene signs a player then he is already proven to be a professional and everything else is just opinion.

    So if you wish to be specific about unearthing gems then we must state that the players are already on professional contracts.

  • A. Stewart

    Adman, I’m not begrudginly mentioning them, nor did I ever say or allude to his winning teams being only comprised of proven players, never, not once.

    Rather I simply pointed out that his winning teams at Arsenal were heavily laden with players who were winners before working with him at the club, especially when compared to recent editions that have not won. In that vein (and in terms of overall team/player size) there is a pretty obvious difference in recruitment trends of those players and those that have come to characterize the subsequent winless editions (although in recent years there has seemingly and thankfully been some changes towards more experienced and more physical players than we have had in the midst of the Fabregas era)

    There are obiviously exceptions, and those exceptions are few. I’m not begrudgingly mentioning them, I’ve made it clear what the point I was trying to get at was, why would I spend similar amounts of time on the few exceptions? (not trying to be argumentative, hope it doesn’t come off that way)

    I think people underestimate how having experienced players who knew all about winning before, was a big contributor to those teams themselves becoming winning editions.

  • A. Stewart

    “There are only two forms of status for footballers, Professionals and amateurs. If Arsene signs a player then he is already proven to be a professional and everything else is just opinion.

    So if you wish to be specific about unearthing gems then we must state that the players are already on professional contracts.”

    And that’s fine to have that opinion, but I’m sure other have the opinion that they are several player status within the professional realm, all the way up to elite.

    Considering that AFC is a professional football club, operating in a professional environment, I really don’t see the importance of starting from that point of mere professional status in this argument. That’s simply stating the obvious.

    My point is and has been, factually, Wenger’s winning AFC teams had loads of players who he either signed or inhertited that had won loads of things (including the biggest of prizes) before every working with him at AFC, especially when compared to more recent editions. I factor that into my analysis of “proven” players (others are free to disagree).

    Thus it’s a myth (I agree with article but not necessarily based on the examples Tony highlighted) that Wenger doesn’t buy proven players, when in fact much of his success at AFC depended largely on proven players including many that he bought.

  • A. Stewart

    Adam, apologies for mis-spelling your name above.

  • Pat

    Recently Wenger pointed out how many full internationals he has in the current squad. This also is a measure of quality.

  • T2T

    What’s strange is that those who are most vocal against Arsene Wenger are the same supporters that criticized him for not selling RvP in 08/09/10…

  • Adam

    A.Stewart, the separation of player status is not opinion its fact.

    For me unearthing a gem would be finding a talent outside of the professional pool. Everything else is just working on an already proven professional to improve him further.

    Hope that comes across?

  • Stuart

    I’m going to write a comment that is negative, dull and boring because I like to moan. I even look for something else to moan about when the thing I originally moaned about is no longer there for me to moan about. I’m such a loser that the only thing I have going for me is when Arsenal win a trophy because I really did it yet when I boo and protest at games and we lose, that was nothing to do with me.

  • Andy Mack

    AL said ‘ How do you expect Arsenal to compete with clubs like City, Chelsea, PSG or Monaco? Its simply not possible. Even those who can, like Madrid, still find it hard to keep up with these rich clubs at times.’
    Which is correct but I’d add that if we’d stayed at Highbury and spend our money on players we’d now be in a much worse situation with many more teams ahead of us on ALs list. Just because we’re no longer financially skint doesn’t mean we’re back on top of the hill. We have more money to come.

    Someone else moaned about spending because we have such expensive tickets. I’d guess you’re a troll as we know they’re expensive but include more than most others so it’s not a terrible deal. And I don’t want my club wasting my ticket money on another shevchenko (at chavski)or Veron (anywhere in the PL!).

  • Andy Mack

    T2Tm they’re the very moaners that called Rv$ chocolate legs!

  • Andy Mack

    A.Stewart – We do have proven players but didn’t (and still don’t) have the money to fill all the gaps in 1 window. Hopefully they can win something this year and then we can’t have this conversation next year.

  • Andy Mack

    should have said ‘have some proven’. and i mean most of them.

  • Adam

    I would like to point out a few facts, while trying not to divert from the main aim of the article but to address some comments.

    What is the definition of a proven player? For me its that they are a professional, at which level within the game is not important. Similar to normal trades or careers one person can be deemed better at their job than others, but again that’s a matter of opinion, and if a person is deemed to be a doctor they will not stop being a doctor because you don’t need or use their services.

    Thierry Henry when he signed his first ever professional contract was known to the footballing community because he had been educated at Clairefontaine.

    George Weah was relatively unknown when he signed his first European professional contract, but was a professional none the less.

    Neither player was a world-beater at the time, yet one won the World player of the year award and both came second for the same award in different years.

    No player playing in England has won this award in recent years, Henry, Beckham, Bergkamp, Shearer and Lineker have come closest. But it seems you have to be playing in Spain or Italy to stand a chance at this award.

    Both Henry and Weah were given a chance in the European game by our manager Arsene Wenger before he was known to us. The game is full of people taking educated gambles on a person and helping them achieve. David Dein did that with Arsene, to a degree, Arsene does this with his playing staff.

    If you actually look at Arsene’s record of singing and moving players on he has quite a high turnover so is always on the move no matter his budget.

    It stands to reason that if you give this particular manager more resources he will achieve more or reduce the failure rate through paying for a player who is markedly more progressed along his career path. That is where we are at the moment and given time he may well uncover the next World player of the year or at least help them on their way.

    Arsene has a history of both signing “established” professionals and giving “promising” young professionals a chance.

    Glenn Hoddle, Mark Hately, Youri Djorkaeff, Jürgen Klinsmann, Enzo Scifo and Sonny Anderson are just a few “established” players Wenger bought before being with us.

    Thierry Henry, David Trézéguet, Emmanuel Petit, George Weah and Lillian Thuram are just some youngsters he gave a chance.

    And just so some of you know, it was Arsene Wenger who sold Jürgen Klinsmann to Tottenham the same year he signed Thierry Henry for Monaco.

  • ARSENAL 13

    @ AL,

    Mr Wenger is the greatest CON MAN the world has ever seen……hahahah. I bet Barca would agree with.

  • blacksheep63


    Clichy was well past his sell-by date when AW offloaded him to Citeh so I think that is a poor comparison. Also Cashley engineered his move, quite disgracefully as I am sure most remember.

    All you doubters need to keep calm, the window has a way to go yet and AFC are quiet negotiators. I would bet that no one on this site or comment feed KNOW who we are after or how the negotiations are going. But remember the absence of evidence does not always equate to evidence of absence, or put another way: just because we haven’t signed a massive player doesn’t mean we are not about to.

  • A. Stewart

    “A.Stewart, the separation of player status is not opinion its fact.”

    No it’s an opinion and one if you are only narrowly defining player status that way i.e. professional versus amateur. You’ve already explained that this is how you view player status, and that is perfectly fine, and you are entitled to have that opinion.

    For others status’ can be divided into the following involving: internationally capped or not; playing at an elite team or not; depending on what division played in; winning titles, which ones, how many, or not; earnings; individual awards/accolades; number of appearances/caps; various statistics etc etc.

    And especially if its established players are being discussed already in the professional context.

  • Adam

    Status of footballers.
    Players participating in organised football are either amateurs or professionals.
    A professional is a player who has a written contract with a club and is paid more for his footballing activity than the expenses he effectively incurs. All other players are considered to be amateurs.

    I use the rules to define the status of footballers, so this is an ascribed status in that they have no choice. It is given to them by the rules, of which, they have agreed to adhere to.

    I think you use opinion, so could be construed as “achieved status” which is a social standing. Or just your perceived ideals on how professional footballers are categorised similar to how clubs are structured within a pyramid system.

    Maybe if you stated that you see a pyramid effect within the professional players it would make sense to me.

    How you make separations of footballers is up to you, I use FIFA’s regulations on the status and transfer of players which the European Court of Justice helped put together and the player status committee uses along with CAS and the disputes resolution chamber.

    If you wish to give greater status to an internationally capped person that’s fine but he has the same legal rights as any other professional, and adheres to the same rules, because he gets paid more or has achieved more doesn’t give that individual more status within the game.

    Similar to a persons marital status, your either married or you not.

    Hope this makes clear my position on this.

  • Stuart

    I”ve always deemed someone a professional in something when that something has been their main income.

  • uk

    @A. stewart,
    you’d have thought that these AKBs, with next to no knowledge of football would be greatful for the lectures you give them, but no, its taboo to desecrate the image they’ve made of their quasi-alchemist cult hero with the midas touch, wenger.