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Top 10 Young Players Signed By Arsene Wenger For Arsenal

Patrick Vieira - signed from Milan in 1996



The former captain is regularly cited as the prime example of Wenger's transfer market nous. Plucked from the relative obscurity of Milan's reserves in September 1996 for a £3.5 million sum, Vieira led Arsenal through their domination of English football at the expense of Manchester United. His feuds with Roy Keane became the stuff of legend and he skippered the 'Invincibles' throughout their unbeaten 2003-04 season. Wenger fended off the interest of Real Madrid over the course of many summers before opting to allow Vieira to depart for Juventus. The Frenchman, now at Manchester City, remains the last Arsenal captain to lift a trophy, the 2005 FA Cup.

Nicolas Anelka - signed from Paris Saint-Germain in 1997



'Le Sulk' did not stay too long at Highbury but must nonetheless be marked down as one of Arsene Wenger's best pieces of transfer business. He arrived from PSG for a fee of around £500,000 in 1997 as a 17-year-old and set about establishing himself in the first team, scoring nine goals in 40 matches as the Gunners claimed the double in 1998. Anelka followed up that season with 15 more goals in 1998-99 before moving on to Real Madrid for some £22.5m, netting Arsenal a tidy profit.

Kolo Toure - signed from ASEC Mimosas in 2002




The Ivorian was part of the fabled Invincibles and filled in a number of positions early on in his Arsenal career, at right-back and in midfield, before commanding a starting berth in the centre of defence. Toure represented Arsenal with distinction before his 2009 transfer to Manchester City. Like Nicolas Anelka, Toure was signed for a relatively small fee and sold at a huge profit. The Citizens splashed out some £14m for the ASEC product, who cost Arsenal £150,000.

Gael Clichy - signed from Cannes in 2003



The position of left-back has never been one to cause Arsene Wenger many problems. He inherited Nigel Winterburn, used Sylvinho and blooded Ashley Cole throughout his time at Arsenal. French left-sider Clichy arrived in summer 2003 after Cannes were relegated to the French third tier; he had only a handful of first-team appearances to his name at the time. He deputised for Cole through injury-hit spells and established himself in the line-up upon his rival's departure for Chelsea in 2006. He now has Kieran Gibbs for competition while Armand Traore has been borrowed by Juventus for a season.

Cesc Fabregas - signed from Barcelona in 2003



With Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and others ahead of him in the jostle for first-team duties at Camp Nou, Arsenal's captain departed Catalunya in September 2003 for London. He made his debut as a 16-year-old, becoming Arsenal's youngest ever first-team player in the process. Cesc, now a world champion, has gone on to establish himself as captain of the side and one of the Premier League's best midfielders. He was linked with a high-profile return to the club of his education earlier this year but has opted to remain at the Emirates for another season at least. Romeu may follow the path worn by Fabregas and Fran Merida, who did not quite live up to the standard set by his compatriot.

Robin van Persie - signed from Feyenoord in 2004



A UEFA Cup winner with Feyenoord in 2002, Van Persie was primed for a long, successful career in Rotterdam but disagreements with the coach, Bert van Marwijk, led him to depart the club in acrimonious circumstances in 2004 for a shade under £3m. The Netherlands international has fought off stiff competition to become the number one striker at the Emirates but has endured more than his fair share of injury trouble in England. He has nonetheless managed over 70 goals in around 200 matches for the Gunners.

Nicklas Bendtner - signed from KB in 2004




The 22-year-old is a Wenger favourite due to his ability to alternate between the striking positions and the right-side of the Professor's preferred 4-3-3 system. The 1.95m attacker has come in for criticism at times during his stay in north London but has a decent scoring record for a young forward and has weighed in with a considerable number of assists too. Signed for an undisclosed fee as a 16-year-old, Bendtner is a key part of the Denmark line-up and has the physique to thrive in the Premier League.


Abou Diaby - signed from Auxerre in 2005



Diaby has established himself as an Arsenal regular over the course of the last two seasons after taking time to adjust to his £2m move from Auxerre in 2005. A versatile midfielder, Diaby can cause trouble in the opposition penalty area and is adept at breaking up play, as well as dribbling elegantly. More recently, he has forced his way into the France line-up and was one of les Bleus' more impressive performers during their ill-fated 2010 World Cup campaign.

Alexandre Song - signed from Bastia in 2006



Song was initially signed on loan from Bastia in 2005 after the Cameroon international had established himself in the first team there. He featured intermittently during his first season in London but transferred for a fee of around £1m in summer 2006. He has since racked up almost 130 appearances for the Gunners, adding steel to the centre of midfield as well as filling in at the back when required. He is also now a regular for the Indomitable Lions.

Denilson - signed from Sao Paulo in 2006




A Brazil youth captain from under-15 level, Denilson has been at Arsenal since the summer of 2006. Wenger signed the South American from Sao Paulo, where he had yet to make a siginificant breakthrough to the first team, for a fee of around £3.5m. He entered first team duties right from the off, despite his relatively tender years, and has become a fixture in the centre of midfield. The screening midfielder has a decent eye for goal and has an understated, refined style of play. However, he has yet to claim a trophy at the Emirates.