Arsenal's £30m Alexis Sanchez deal highlights Arsene Wenger's shift in transfer policy

Nassos Stylianou
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Arsenal new signing Alexis Sanchez in action at the World Cup (Source: Getty)

Arsenal fans rejoice. Arsene Wenger has got his chequebook out - and it's still 52 days before August 31 and transfer deadline day.

The signing of Chilean international Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona for a reported fee of £30m so early in the transfer window - the Mesut Ozil deal famously came with just a few hours to go before the deadline last year - gives Gunners supporters hope that this will be the first arrival of many in a spending spree.

Wenger's evident reluctance to splash the cash on marquee signings over the years has been a major source of frustration for Arsenal fans during the latter part of the Frenchman's reign in north London, especially as rival clubs have spent lavishly on big names.

The purchase of Ozil for £44m last year did go some way to allay these concerns, but a breakdown of Arsenal's transfer spend does point to a shift in policy in the market.

The last three summers have seen the north London club sign their three most expensive players, with Santi Cazorla coming in for a fee just below £20m in 2012, Mesut Ozil breaking the club's transfer record and Alexis Sanchez believed to have cost £30m.

As you can see from the graph below, this is in stark contrast to the seasons from 2007 to 2011, excluding the summer of 2009 which saw just Thomas Vermaelen move to the Emirates stadium, where the focus appeared to be signing a number of players coming in below £15m, while shying away from an expensive transfer.


2014-15: Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona, £30m)

2013-14: Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid, £44m)

2012-13: Santi Cazorla (Malaga, £16.72m), Lukas Podolski (Cologne, £10.56m), Olivier Giroud (Montpellier, £10.56m), Nacho Monreal (Malaga, £8.8m)

2011-12: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Southampton, £12.14m), Gervinho (Lille, £10.56m), Mikel Arteta (Everton, £10.5m), Per Mertesacker (Werder Bremen, £9.94m), Andre Santos (Fenerbahce, £6.16m), Chu-Young Park (Monaco, £5.72m), Carl Jenkinson (Charlton, £990,000)

2010-11: Laurent Koscielny (Lorient, £11m), Sebastien Squillaci (Sevilla, £5.72m), Wellington Silva (Fluminense, £3.52m)

2009-10: Thomas Vermaelen (Ajax, £10.6m)

2008-09: Andrey Arshavin (Zenit, £14.52m), Samir Nasri (Marseille, £14.08m), Aaron Ramsey (Cardiff, £5.63m), Mikael Silvestre (Manchester United, £836,000), Aumary Bischoff (Werder Bremen, £264,000)

2007-08: Eduardo (Dinamo Zagreb, £11.88m), Bacary Sagna (Auxerre, £7.92m), Lukasz Fabiansky (Legia Warsaw, £3.83m), Lassana Diarra (Chelsea, £2.55m), Pedro Botelho (Figueirense, £1.06m), Luke Freeman (Gilingham, £264,000)

You can view these in a spreadsheet here.

A change in transfer policy at the Emirates?

This serves to highlight how Arsenal's transfer policy has shifted over the last few seasons.

Until the summer of 2012, Arsenal's record transfer was £14.5m for Russian forward Andrey Arshavin, while Chelsea had spent £50m on Fernando Torres, Manchester City had splashed out £38m on Sergio Aguero, while Liverpool had blown £35m on Andy Carroll. Even Aston Villa had spent more on a single player, with Darren Bent setting the Midlands club back by £18m in 2011.

Wenger forged his reputation as a cunning operator on the transfer market, signing relatively unknown prospects from countries outside the big European leagues like France and the Netherlands for a small outlay.

Players like Robin Van Persie and Marc Overmars were snapped up for £2.75m and £6m respectively, while Nicholas Anelka joined for £500,000 from Paris St Germain and Freddie Ljungberg was bought for £3m from Swedish club Halmstads.

However, with the global scouting networks that so many other clubs currently employ - and with Wenger lacking his trusted transfer sidekick David Dein, who was said to have had a crucial role in player recruitment in the early part of Wenger's reign - the Frenchman has had to change tack. The transfer of Marouane Chamakh in 2010, on a free so not included in the list above, and the unsuccessful signings of Gervinho, Andre Santos, Chu-Young Park, to name a few from the year after, were evidence that perhaps a change in policy was needed.

Arsenal's three most expensive transfers, all coming in the last three years, have come from La Liga, and the last two from big European clubs. Liverpool's interest in Sanchez was no secret and Juventus were also rumoured to have been after the 25 year-old former Barcelona man - this was hardly a signing done away from the spotlight.

The impending purchase of French defender Mathieu Debuchy does have an old Wenger feel to it but, with the right back having amassed Premier League experience already at Newcastle, it is more of a safe bet.

But if Arsenal do go on to break the bank with another blockbuster transfer this summer - rumours are already swirling of an impending move for Real Madrid's Sami Kedhira - then they will really be up there with the transfer market big boys in flexing their financial muscle.

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