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Wenger the talent scout: His best bargains

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Arsene Wenger says he loves a bargain in the transfer market, and the facts certainly show this to be true. The Frenchman has a knack for spotting talent, and he has revolutionised the way even rival clubs find players.

Under Wenger’s reign, Arsenal has managed to consecutively qualify for the champion’s league every season, despite being woefully short of funds. According to many Football Tipsters, such a feat wouldn’t have been possible with any other manager.

To celebrate Wenger in all his talent spotting glory, here are some of his best bargains during his 20 years at the club…

Sol Campbell

Sol Campbell and Arsene Wenger

Sol Campbell’s move from Spurs on a free transfer is widely considered the most controversial Premier League transfer ever. When it comes to bargains, you surely can’t better than free. Add in the fact Wenger poached the best centre back in the league from the club’s fiercest rivals and it was clear why it was so satisfying for us Gooners to watch it all unfold. Campbell went on to play a major role in two of Arsenal’s league titles.

Petr Cech

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When Peter Cech made the move from Chelsea, Blues skipper John Terry guessed that the goalkeeper would be worth 12-15 points to Arsenal. At only 33, Cech was still pretty young for a keeper and proved to be worth every bit of the £10.5 million Wenger paid for him.

Cech is a proven winner with a wealth of experience. His presence in the team has clearly been a very positive influence on the rest of the squad. Luckily for us, Jose Mourinho made a big error in selling him.

Cesc Fabregas

Cesc Fabregas talks to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

Wenger signed Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona’s academy in 2003, when the player was just 16. The fee? Just £500,000 in compensation. While the Spaniard turned into a favourite at the Emirates, Wenger and many Gooners are still sore that we lost him to Barcelona in 2011. Yet in terms of pure economics, the fee of £35 million was a hell of a profit – more than 70 times what Wenger paid for him!

While some fans no doubt would have liked to have seen him return, the replacement of Ozil, I think we can all agree is an upgrade.

Nicolas Anelka

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Wenger bought 17-year-old striker Nicolas Anelka from Paris St Germain in 1997 for just £500,000. Many Gooners have mixed feelings about him – and with good reason. On one hand, Anelka played 90 times and scored 28 goals during his 28 months at Highbury. He played a large part in our league and cup double win in 1998.

On the other hand, some of his performances in the Champions League the next season were unenthusiastic to say the least and the Highbury faithful gave him stick for it. The press nicknamed him “Le Sulk” and true to his nickname, the striker put in a transfer request at the end of the 1988/99 season.

Anelka’s sale to Real Madrid was a great bit of business. Not only did Wenger sell him for a £22 million profit, but his time at Highbury proved to be the best of career. It was good job in many ways that Wenger got rid of him when he did.

Robert Pires

Sixth on the all-time greatest ever player list and part of the Invincibles, Robert Pires, subject of today’s Highbury Hero column,  was a fantastic signing for the incredibly low price of just £6 million pounds! Scoring a plethora of vital goals it makes you think what the price would be today for an equivalent player with potential.

VIGO, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 24: Robert Pires of Arsenal (R) celebrates scoring their third goal with Thierry Henry during the UEFA Champions League match between Celta Vigo and Arsenal at Balaidos Stadium on February 24, 2004 in Vigo, Spain. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)

Thierry Henry

The Legend, the undisputed, the King. Words cannot do justice to the best attacking player to grace the English Premier League. Bought from Juventus in 1999 for a paltry 11 million, Thierry was transformed from a left winger to a lethal striker that struck fear into every goal keeper in Britain and Europe.

Sold in 2007 for a healthy profit of £5 million, one again wonders how much he would have been worth in today’s transfer market of £89 million for Paul Pogba and £50 million for John Stones.

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