After combined £100 million deals disappoint, Arsenal have finally turned the tables

Arsene Wenger at Training - 18/02/2014

After £100 million worth of sales to Barcelona, Arsenal have finally flipped the tables.

Ever since Arsene Wenger won his first league title with Arsenal back in 1997/98, the Frenchman has had to worry about the gaze of Barcelona.

Impressed with the talented players in his system, each with potential for a seamless fit into the Barcelona philosophy, Highbury and latterly the Emirates became a happy hunting ground for scouts of the Spanish giants.

Over the past 16 years, Arsenal have sold seven players to Barcelona, each regarded as important players in the side at one time or another - for a combined £100 million.

Marc Overmars: £25 million; Emmanuel Petit: £7 million; Gio van Bronckhorst £1.2 million; Thierry Henry £16 million; Alex Hleb £11 million; Cesc Fabregas £25 million; Alex Song £15 million.

Barcelona's success with their signings has been mixed, with Hleb a complete disaster and Song hardly impressive either, but Henry looked sensational alongside Ronaldinho and Eto'o at one stage, while Fabregas was very productive although sold recently.

Yet when it came to the Gunners, the £100 million combined transfers have only served to disappoint, pedalling the theory that they were seen as a less attractive and ambitious club to play for, for top stars whose ambition in North London was unfulfilled and could only be realised at the Nou Camp.

Now the tables have finally been turned. Arsenal have confirmed their status as predators in the transfer market by finally making Barcelona's big stars their prey.

This, illustrated via the £28 million signing of Alexis Sanchez last week, followed another blockbuster raid on La Liga for Mesut Ozil last summer.

Arsenal have signed players from Barcelona during Wenger's reign, but these have all been teenagers straight from the La Masia production line, who had yet to play a single game for the club.

Sanchez is different. He is a proven world class performer, and only Lionel Messi scored more goals for Barcelona last season than him.

The Gunners have struck gold in the transfer market in Sanchez, and the signing is as symbolic in terms of the club's future direction and financial power as it could be transformative on the football pitch.

Considering the disappointment at seeing major players taken from him over the years by Barcelona, this could be Wenger's most satisfactory signing yet.

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch