Arsene Wenger tends to keep his powder dry during the January transfer window, but he does occasionally get out his wallet to spend.
The results have been mixed – this list is perhaps surprisingly short – as we take a look at five of the Arsenal manager’s best New Year deals.
5 - Nacho Monreal (2013)
A terrible performance from left-back Andre Santos a night before the transfer deadline forced Wenger's hand to search for a new addition, especially with Kieran Gibbs injured at the time. Wenger pulled a rabbit from the hat in plumping for Nacho Monreal from Malaga, a name nobody had linked with the club in advance. The Spaniard settled instantly and has been a consistent and reliable performer. The sort of player who will prove essential in Arsenal's league challenge and has added real competitiveness and depth at the once problematic left-back position.
4 - Sol Campbell (2010)
Campbell became only the fifth player in Arsenal’s history to rejoin the club having previously departed. Signed as a free agent for his experience and match intelligence, the centre-back made 11 league appearances for Arsenal during the second half of the season, and they only lost two of those games as they eventually finished third in the table. He remains a firm favourite among Arsenal fans – despite his Tottenham connections – and has even suggested that he could return again in a coaching role.
3 - Emmanuel Eboue (2005)
Arsenal paid Beveren just £1m for Eboue, and eventually sold him for three times that amount more than six years later. While that does not represent a huge financial reward, the fact that Eboue stayed with the Gunners for so long is testament to his strength of character, and the reason he makes this list. The Ivory Coast international had to endure some tough criticism for his performances at times, particularly during the 2008-09 season. However, he rediscovered his form, making 40 appearances during the following season, and becoming a cult figure at the Emirates Stadium. In total, he made 216 appearances under Wenger.
2 - Emmanuel Adebayor (2006)
Wenger signed Adebayor from Monaco for £7m, and was quickly rewarded as the striker scored on his debut against BirminghamCity. Often a player who divides opinion, Adebayor has nonetheless gone on to carve out an impressive career in the Premier League at Arsenal, ManchesterCity and Tottenham Hotspur. But it was with the Gunners where he made the greatest impact, scoring 62 goals in 132 appearances – an impressive strike-rate. In the 2008-09 season, his final campaign with Arsenal, he finished as second-highest scorer behind Robin van Persie. City then signed him for £25m, more than three times what he cost Arsenal.
1 - Theo Walcott (2006)
It is rare that Arsene Wenger parts with a sizeable amount of money in any transfer window, but he had no qualms in doing so when he paid Southampton £12m for Walcott’s services. That fee made Walcott the most expensive 16-year-old in the history of British football at the time and, even then, the teenager was clearly one of the most exciting prospects English football had seen in years. It could be said that Walcott has not quite fulfilled the potential he showed at Southampton, but equally valid is the argument that he is still not at his peak, and continues to improve for Arsenal. Walcott has made 259 appearances for the Gunners, scoring 69 goals, and there should be many more to come.
image: © wonker