Flash-back to January 2004 and Arsene Wenger sealed the title for the Gunners with a £10.5 million deal to bring then 21-year-old Jose Antonio Reyes to North London from Sevilla.
At the time, Reyes had scored 6 goals in all competitions for the La Liga side after an impressive 10 goal tally the previous term.
He went on to score five goals for Arsenal in 21 appearances across all competitions but the impact of his arrival played a huge role in the Gunners’ invincible season. It sent a message that Arsene Wenger was prepared to go all out to succeed.
Following the French boss’ £42.5 million spend on record signing Mesut Ozil this summer, the Gunners now sit at the top of the Premier League table as we head into the business end of the season – with Manchester City and Chelsea breathing down his neck, however, the Arsenal manager now needs to replicate the signing he made in the January window a decade ago.
The Gunners have been incessantly linked with Real Madrid youngster Alvaro Morata in recent weeks for that very reason – the Spain youngster fits perfectly the template of the Reyes signing but Morata has now ruled out a departure from the Spanish capital.
The Gunners are also linked with a young Frenchman in Real Sociedad attacker Antoine Griezmann for much the same reason – the 22-year-old La Liga starlet has scored 12 league goals in just 18 appearances so far this term but his £17.5 million valuation is, even considering inflation, a little steeper than the boss’ outlay for Reyes in 2004.
If Wenger is considering a similar signing to Reyes this month, he might find his candidate in Iker Muniain but Athletic Bilbao are known to drive a hard bargain and likely to demand upwards of £30 million.
The Athletic Bilbao has been a strong performer for Spain at youth level and can play anywhere across the front three but his Spain U21 teammate Jairo could be more the kind of signing Wenger will target.
The 20-year-old Sevilla winger is reminiscent of Reyes in many ways – he has scored four goals and made seven assists for Sevilla in all competitions this term after breaking through the from B team last term.
Arsene Wenger has enjoyed success in buying from Spain in recent transfer windows, Nacho Monreal, Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil a trio of examples.
While Jose Reyes was not ultimately a success beyond his initial impact, Wenger's recent signings from La Liga may give him added confidence of pulling off a similar deal 10 years on.
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