With Alexandre Lacazette‘s arrival, Arsenal FC have set a new club record for an incoming transfer. The team, and Manager Arsene Wenger have historically held an aversion to paying through the nose for a player. That fact makes the whopping $58 million paid for the Lyon striker even more amazing. So, now is as good a time as any to take a look at the ten largest transfer fees ever paid by the Gunners.
Arsenal’s Largest Transfer Fees Ever
10. Santi Cazorla August 2012 – $21M
The Summer of 2012 heralded in yet another new age for Arsenal. Star striker Robin Van Persie had just scored 37 goals in all competitions, including a league-best 30 in the EPL.
So, when in July of that year he announced he would be leaving the club, Arsene Wenger set out to splash the cash and rebuild his squad.
As well as bringing in Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud to bolster the attack, he also purchased a Spanish winger from Malaga.
Santi Cazorla was not a well-known name in the U.K. at the time of his arrival but soon endeared himself to the Arsenal faithful. In his club debut, against Sunderland, he won Man of the Match for his efforts and scored his first goal at Anfield in a 2-0 win.
He further cemented his position at the club in his first North London Derby, scoring en route to a 5-2 victory. Overall he was the only player to feature in all 38 league games, scored 12 goals and grabbed 14 assists in all competitions, and won Arsenal’s Player of the Season Award.
While Cazorla hasn’t exceeded his first-year goal total, he remains an integral part of Arsenal FC. He has shifted from playing as a winger to a deep-lying central midfielder, capable of playing a pass to any part of the pitch.
That is until last October against Ludogorets when he picked up a season-ending injury. He is not even expected to be ready for the start of next season.
9. Jose Antonio Reyes January 2004 – $22M
Another Spaniard makes the list at number 9, although we have to travel back in time to the glory of the Invincibles’ season to find him. Jose Antonio Reyes plied his trade for Sevilla, and the year before his move helped them win promotion into La Liga.
His original transfer fee was $13.5M but rose due to add-ons all the way up to a staggering (at the time at least) $22M.
Despite the huge fee he commanded, Reyes had a relatively turbulent time at Highbury. His maiden campaign yielded five goals in 21 appearances, as well as a Premier League title.
The 2004-05 season started well, as the attacker scored in each of the first six games of the season. He struggled a bit halfway through the year but finished with 12 goals in 45 appearances overall.
However, over time, life in London became sour for the Spaniard and was even caught by a prankster as saying he would welcome a move back to La Liga. Eventually, in the summer of 2006, he even refused to play in a Champions League qualifier because he would become Cup-tied and unable to play for Real Madrid, should a move materialize.
Arsene Wenger got fed up with the want-away Reyes, and Los Galacticos agreed to take him on loan, sending Julio Baptista the other way.
After a year on loan, Arsenal decided to sell the player outright, but to a controversial destination. Real Madird’s cross-town rivals, Atletico Madrid. The transfer fee came to just under $14M.
8. Lucas Perez August 2016 – $22.2M
The last of three Spaniards on the list, and the first from the Summer 2016 window, makes the list at number eight. Lucas Perez had spent two years at Deportivo La Coruna, first on loan from Greek powerhouse PAOK, then as a permanent member of the squad.
In fact, he was coming off a career-best goal tally, netting 17 times, including 11 strikes in the first 15 games. For a team that needed a goal scorer, those numbers really added up.
So, after a disastrous opening two games to the 2016-17 season, Arsenal ponied up the eight-largest transfer fee of their history.
Perez looked ready to take the Premiership by storm after his first appearance for the club. On September 10th, against Southampton, both Lucas Perez and Laurent Koscielny were celebrating their birthdays.
The pair got a chance to celebrate in style as they combined for the game-winning goal, with Perez nabbing the assist.
However, despite a brace against Nottingham Forest and a hat trick versus Basel, the Spaniard never really broke into the starting XI. After only a year with the club it even looks like the striker will move on.
Rumor has it that former club, Deportivo La Coruna, want to bring him back to La Liga.
7. Danny Welbeck September 2014 $22.5M
This transfer truly surprised two sets of fans. With the Summer transfer window rapidly closing and the Gunners in need of defensive reinforcements, an attacker was the last player fans expected. Especially a striker from Manchester United.
However, with the transfer window extending into September, the Red Devils sold their academy graduate to a league rival, shocking both sets of supporters in the process.
Welbeck’s time in Manchester was marred by inconsistent performances, and the huge price tag attached to him left Gooners unsure about how he would fit in.
To an extent, his time in North London has also had its ups and downs, spending lots of time on the injury table. He has collected two FA Cups in the process, however, and added a more consistent goal tally.
Danny Welbeck has 17 goals in 69 appearances so far, including three goals against his former club. Manager Arsene Wenger has said time and again that if Welbeck can shake his injury troubles, he can be a striker in the mold of Thierry Henry.
6. Calum Chambers July 2014 $23M
The first, but not the last, defender to appear on this list is a Southampton academy graduate. Calum Chambers had clawed his way from the Saints’ youth teams all the way to the first team, making 22 appearances along the way.
Anytime an English player proves he can play at the top level, he will always attract the attention of the big clubs. That’s exactly what happened to the young defender.
Although normally deployed as a right-back for Southampton, Arsene Wenger said almost right away that he thinks Chambers can develop into a center-back.
In fact, his competitive debut for Arsenal came as a central defender during the FA Community Shield against Manchester City. His display brought praise from the likes of the BBC, calling him ‘mature beyond his years’.
With Koscielny and Mertesacker/Mustafi occupying the center-back positions, and Hector Bellerin emerging as the top choice right-back, Chambers has seen his chances limited in the last eighteen months.
Last year he was loaned out to Middlesbrough, and although they suffered relegation, he consistently impressed. Being only 22 still, there is plenty of time for the defender to break into the starting XI.
5. Shkodran Mustafi August 2016 – $45M
Just like Lucas Perez, Shkodran Mustafi arrived just before the end of the Summer 2016 transfer window, after the opening day defeat to Liverpool. With Per Mertesacker out long-term, and Laurent Koscielny struggling for fitness, Mustafi came in from Valencia and immediately made an impact.
The German defender partnered with assistant captain Koscielny to form one of the best units in the league early last season. In fact, the team went unbeaten in the first 22 games in which Mustafi played until the 2-1 loss to Watford in January.
Although things haven’t been all joy for the German; he spent a few weeks out through injury around the Christmas season last year, and struggled to regain form afterwards.
Like the rest of the team he did not play well at all during the Champions League and was part of both teams that lost to Bayern in identical fashion (5-1 in both legs).
He also missed the FA Cup Final through illness, but overall was one of the team’s best defenders in his first year. Mustafi featured 37 times in all competitions, scoring two goals.
Surely he will, like the rest of the team, improve next year with Wenger’s contract sorted out.
4. Alexis Sanchez July 2014 – $47M
After the season he just had, it is a wonder he isn’t higher up on the list. But, keep in mind, he moved to the club before the new TV deal kicked in last year, which drove transfer fees through the roof.
Sanchez started his European career in Italy with Udinese where he impressed enough to catch the eye of Barcelona. In three years he made 112 appearances in all competitions, scoring 21 times, including 12 strikes in his last season.
The Catalonians brought him to the Nou Camp, where he became a household name. He made 141 appearances for the Blaugrana, scoring 47 goals as a winger. So, when Arsenal had the cash, they pounced on the Chilean to help him meet-up with former rival Mesut Ozil.
Alongside Calum Chambers, Sanchez made his competitive debut for the Gunners in the Charity Shield against Man City. His first assist came against Crystal Palace in the league, and first goal against Besiktas in the Champions League qualifying stage.
Since then he has featured 145 times for the Gunners, his most total appearances for any team, and netted 72 goals. Alexis played most of last year as a striker, but if he stays in North London he will surely step aside for Lacazette, and return to the midfield.
3. Granit Xhaka May 2016 – $49.3M
The third and final entry from the 2016 Summer transfer window on the list, Granit Xhaka moved to Arsenal from Borussia Monchengladbach (you can just call them ‘Gladback) to sure up the midfield.
Touted as a leader on the pitch who can use his physicality to win the ball, and brain to distribute it, expectations were high for the Swiss international. Just like the rest of the team, last year was inconsistent for Xhaka.
He scored two wonder-goals early in the year; first against Hull in the EPL from 25 yards out, which was later a candidate for goal of the season, then a deflected effort versus Nottingham Forest in the EFL Cup.
Just as memorable for fans as the two goals were Xhaka’s two red cards. The first came against Swansea when the team was ahead by two goals, but Arsenal held on to win 3-2. The next red was again given out by Jon Moss in a 2-1 win over Burnley.
Despite these setbacks, the midfielder improved greatly near the end of the year, showing discipline, distribution, and determination in equal measure.
Granit Xhaka also scored in the 2-0 win over Manchester United during the fantastic finale to the league season.
With a full season of EPL soccer under his belt, Xhaka looks ready to make his mark on the club.
2. Mesut Ozil September 2013 – $51.5M
Runner-up on the list is another midfielder; German international Mesut Ozil. The playmaker was enjoying life in Madrid with Los Blancos until the likes of Gareth Bale and Angel Di Maria began to threaten his place.
Given that Ozil gave Real so much he felt a bit let-down by the new creative players being brought in, so he forced a move. Reportedly, Arsene Wenger was the main reason he chose to join Arsenal, for a then club record fee.
He is also the most expensive German player ever.
Life in North London started sweetly for Ozil, and he finished the campaign with seven goals, 13 assists, and an FA Cup during his 40 games in all competitions.
2014-15 was not quite as successful, although the creative burden was shared with Alexis Sanchez. Mesut bagged five goals an seven assists in 31 games and added his second FA Cup in two years.
After a 2015-16 in which Mesut Ozil managed 20 assists (19 in the league, second only to Thierry Henry in 2002-03 in EPL history), he also earned the Arsenal Player of the Year award.
This past year he appears to have taken another step back, as he routinely put in underwhelming performances. Despite this, and his perceived lack of effort, he still put up a career-best 12 goals in all competitions.
He is entering the last year of his contract, and it is unclear whether or not he will stay at Arsenal.
1. Alexandre Lacazette July 2017 – $58M
After what feels like a ten-year transfer saga, the French striker finally got his move to Arsenal just a few days ago. The initial fee above could rise as high as $67M, depending on add-ons, which is the largest transfer fee ever paid by Arsenal.
However, mere weeks ago the deal looked dead. Lyon had already agreed to sell Lacazette to Atletico Madrid in May, however that deal was scuppered when a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) adjudicated that Atleti could not make any deals for the next two transfer windows.
So, with the attacker wanting to leave, Arsene Wenger got his dream move.
Since his first appearance in the 2009-10 season, Alex Lacazette has played 275 games for Lyon in all competitions. Overall he netted 129 for the French club, with 37 of those goals coming last year.
Like any transfer, only time will tell how much value for price Arsenal got. However, right now anyway, hopes are high that ‘Laca’ will continue to impress in Gooner Red.
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