x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Arsene Wenger's not-so-magnificent seven

Arsene Wenger tends to look beyond the English shores when signing players, with only seven of his 84 transfers at Arsenal being English.

It remains to be seen whether Theo Walcott, right, will be regarded as a successful English signing for Arsene Wenger.
It remains to be seen whether Theo Walcott, right, will be regarded as a successful English signing for Arsene Wenger.

Success breeds contempt and Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, has his fair share of critics, despite his positive impact on English football.

The Frenchman is into his 15th season at Arsenal, joining the club in 1996, and among current managers only Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United has served longer in England's top flight (and in the Football League as a whole), than Wenger.

One familiar criticism thrown at Wenger is that he has had a big hand in the influx of foreign players into the English game, thus damaging the chances of the country's national team by diminishing the pot of eligible players.

Wenger does not care, of course, as his job is to win trophies for Arsenal.

Since he arrived from Japanese side Nagoya Grampus Eight, Wenger has made 84 signings. Only seven have been English. An astonishing statistic, but when you look at the mixed success he has had with that not-so-magnificent seven, you can hardly blame him for looking elsewhere for his players.

John Lukic

The veteran goalkeeper played almost 300 games for Arsenal between 1983-1990, but only 15 under Wenger after re-signing for the club from Leeds United in 1996.

Matthew Upson

The centre-back cost £2 million (Dh11.8m) from Luton Town in 1997, but could not break past the established trio of Tony Adams, Martin Keown and Steve Bould. He is now at West Ham United, with 21 England caps to his name.

Jermaine Pennant

Signed for £2m as a 15 year old from Notts County - a record for a trainee at the time. Scored a hat-trick on his league debut but made only a handful of appearances. Left for Birmingham City, then moved to Liverpool. Now on loan at Stoke City from Spanish side Zaragoza and has had several brushes with the law.

Francis Jeffers

The forward arrived from Everton in 2001 for a hefty £8m, but scored just four times in three years. He left in 2004 and gradually slipped down the divisions. He now plays in Australia.

Richard Wright

Seen as the long-term successor to David Seaman in the Arsenal goal, after being signed from Ipswich Town in 2001 for £6m. Mistakes and injuries hindered his Gunners career. He has played just 125 games since leaving the London club, around 15 a season.

Sol Campbell

Crossed the north London divide from rivals Tottenham Hotspur on a free transfer in 2001 and won two league titles and three FA Cups before leaving for Portsmouth. Wenger's most successful English signing by far.

Theo Walcott

Still only 21, time will tell if Walcott, who cost £9.1m from Southampton four years ago, will be an Arsenal success. He can be devastating on his day, especially with his pace, and started the season in blistering form with four goals in his first four starts before injury struck. He needs to produce more consistently.

 

twoods@thenational.ae