It’s been a painful season for Gunners fans around the globe, but the start of 2021 has seen a revival in form and the team’s potential is beginning to show. The side are still as temperamental as ever though, and it’s tricky to guess which Arsenal will turn up on any given match day. Tipsters giving out football predictions will find it easier to accurately speculate results in the coming weeks as the team’s players are increasing with confidence and their stock is starting to rise.
With Kieran Tierney impressing with each game, his value could soar from the £25 million Arsenal paid for him in his transfer from Celtic in 2019, and finding hidden gems is something Arsenal are great at. In this article I’ll rate Arsenal’s three best bargains of the Premier League era.
Arsenal have been ever-present in the Premier League
The epitome of a commanding centre back, Sol Campbell had it all.
In a controversial move from Arsenal’s fiercest rivals, Campbell left Spurs on a free transfer when he was at his prime. Campbell was labelled ‘Judas’ by the Tottenham fanbase after he was offered a contract to make him their highest paid player of all time, but instead chose to join the red side of North London in search of Champions League football.
A leader on and off the pitch, Campbell joined the Gunners in 2001 and captained the side to their second Premier League title in 2001-02, and then to their third and most recent league title in 2003-04. The 6’2’’ powerhouse had everything. Campbell was an intimidating and imperious presence at the heart of the Arsenal defence and was a key reason behind the club’s momentum throughout the 03-04 ‘Invincibles’ campaign.
In 2001, Campbell would have been one of the most expensive defenders to purchase if he was under contract at Spurs but, due to the Bosman ruling, Arsenal bagged one of the best bargains in Premier League history.
Fabregas became Arsenal’s youngest ever player when he broke into the team as a lightweight but gifted 16-year-old. The Spaniard joined the Arsenal academy after Arsene Wenger convinced the promising playmaker to leave Barcelona to gain more first team football experience. By the time Fabregas was 21, he was the Captain and heartbeat of the side, filling the void left by the influential Patrick Vieira.
With elite technical ability, supreme passing and an eye for the goal, it was clear that Fabregas was always going to attract interest from the biggest clubs around Europe. After impressing whilst playing for Arsenal, and with star players Xavi and Andres Iniesta approaching the twilight of their careers, constant Barcelona transfer rumours unsettled the talisman and his days in the capital were numbered. Arsenal fans appreciated the class Fabregas brought to the team despite their reluctance to let him go, and pocketing approximately £30 million from the move to Catalonia ensured the Reds made huge profit on the £2 million they paid back in 2003.
Fabregas spent his youth career and prime years at Barcelona
One of the most prolific strikers of all time, Nicolas Anelka joined Arsenal for only £500k but managed to build transfer costs of almost £100 million during his illustrious career.
An obvious talent, Anelka broke into the PSG squad after graduating from French football’s prestigious Clairefontaine academy. Arsene Wenger was the newly appointed Arsenal manager and managed to pull off a real coup in landing Anelka, who was always destined for greatness, for such a small fee.
After two and a half seasons in London, Real Madrid came calling for the Frenchman and Arsenal were in no position to deny the attacker a dream move to the Galacticos. Arsenal managed to negotiate a £22.3 million transfer fee – more than 44 times what the club had paid PSG fewer than three years earlier.
At the time, the free-scoring forward was in no doubt that moving to Spain was the right choice, but he has since questioned whether he should have stayed with the Gunners. One thing that is for certain is that Arsenal had a world class player and made a huge profit from their time with Anelka.