Arsenal Most Expensive Signings

As Arsenal look to smash their transfer record with the signing of West Ham midfielder Declan Rice following the transfer of Chelsea forward Kai Havertz, we at BetUK look into Arsenal's most expensive signings, how they performed in the Premier League and if Declan Rice and Kai Havertz can close the gap on Arsenal and Manchester City.

Note: These are compiled before the signings of Kai Havertz and Declan Rice as an analysis of how high money signings have performed at the club.

Arsenal Most Expensive Signing: Nicolas Pepe (£72 Million)

  • Name: Nicolas Pepe
  • Signed From: Lille
  • Price: £72million
  • Position: Winger
  • Nationality: Ivory Coast

About the Nicolas Pepe Signing

Ex-Arsenal boss Unai Emery wanted to add a dynamic wideman to his squad in the summer of 2019 with Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha top of the Spaniard’s wishlist. 

However, the club’s recruitment staff opted to go for Nicolas Pepe, who had enjoyed an excellent 2018/19 season with French side Lille. Before the end of the season, Lille president Gerard Lopez had valued Pepe at €80million and nearly got his asking price with Arsenal eventually agreeing to pay €79million. 

The deal was officially confirmed on August 1, 2019 with Pepe signing a five-year contract.

Why did Arsenal sign Nicolas Pepe?

Pepe had two years at Lille after joining from Angers in 2017 and was a big hit with the Mastiffs.

He scored 14 times for Lille in his first season but kicked on in the following campaign, scoring 23 goals and providing 12 assists in 41 appearances. He was named Lille’s player of the year that season, was included in Ligue 1’s 2018/19 team of the season and was shortlisted for the French top-flight’s player of the year award.

Pepe had spent his entire career playing in France before moving to Arsenal, starting out at amateur side Poitiers before moving to Angers in 2013. 

He had a year in the reserves before breaking into the Angers first team in the 2014/15 season as the club secured promotion to Ligue 1. He would make 39 appearances the following season for Angers before joining Lille in a deal worth a maximum €10million.

Was Nicolas Pepe's price-tag justified?

Pepe’s excellent 2018/19 season certainly bumped up his price significantly, as did reports of interest from other clubs, such as Liverpool. In hindsight, Arsenal massively overpaid for Pepe, who is currently valued at €18million by transfermarkt.

Nicolas Pepe’s time at Arsenal

Pepe joined at a difficult time for Arsenal and Unai Emery, who would be sacked in November 2019, and struggled to replicate his form for Lille in the early part of the season. At the midway point in the season, Pepe had taken fewer shots and completed fewer dribbles than his fellow Gunners. His performances did improve slightly once Mikel Arteta took charge with Pepe scoring in Arteta’s first win as Arsenal boss. 

Arteta would push Pepe to run with the ball more and get in the box more frequently. However, those new instructions wouldn’t lead to a massive uptick in production and Pepe would finish the season with six goals and eight assists.

Pepe played a pivotal role in Arsenal’s FA Cup win in his first season with the club, starting the semi-final victory over Manchester City and playing the whole 90 minutes in the final against Chelsea. However, It’s tough to pinpoint one low moment for Pepe, who produced plenty of underwhelming moments during his Arsenal career. His sending off in a goalless draw against Leeds in 2020 didn’t endear him to the fans, but it was a perceived inability to realise his potential and consistently performing below the standards expected that ended up being his biggest crime.

Pepe spent the 2022/23 season on loan with Nice, where he was publicly criticised during his early days by coach Lucien Favre. A knee issue hampered his time with Nice and he returned to Arsenal this summer having scored eight goals in 26 appearances. Nice’s loan deal for Pepe didn’t include an option to make the Ivorian’s stay permanent and he is currently back at Arsenal for pre-season training. 

Pepe is on the market and with one year left on his Arsenal deal, will leave for significantly less than he was purchased for, if sold.

Nicolas Pepe: Final Thoughts

Pepe is often mentioned in lists of Arsenal’s worst signings of all-time. The fanbase often equates him to other major flops, including the likes of Igor Stepanovs, Andre Santos and Marouane Chamakh. Pepe could argue he’s been the victim of circumstance at Arsenal having joined just before a huge period of upheaval at the club. He was signed by Emery but then mainly worked under Arteta, a manager who had very different demands. He also arrived just before Bukayo Saka burst onto the scene and took his place on the right wing.

But ultimately, Pepe couldn’t do enough on the field to justify his price tag or place in the team and while he did have a big role in Arsenal’s FA Cup victory in 2020, his move to north London will always be regarded as a huge flop.

Success?: No.

Arsenal Expensive Signings: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£57.4 million)

  • Name: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
  • Signed From: Borussia Dortmund
  • Price: £57.4 million
  • Position: Forward
  • Nationality: Gabon

About the Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang signing

Forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang joined Arsenal midway through manager Arsene Wenger's final campaign at the club in 2017-18. Aubameyang moved to the club in January, joining from Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund, who were only happy to sanction the transfer if they could find a replacement.

Chelsea forward Michy Batshuayi consequently joined the German club on loan, opening the door for Aubameyang to move to Arsenal for a club-record fee on a long-term contract.

Why did Arsenal sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang?

Aubameyang enjoyed plenty of success at previous club Borussia Dortmund.

In the 2015-16 campaign, Aubameyang bagged 25 goals in the Bundesliga, having become the first player in the division's history to score in each of his team's opening six games of a season, and his goals steered the club to second spot in the division. The following season, things got even better for Aubameyang, who finished as Bundesliga top scorer with 31 goals, scored the winning goal in the DFB Pokal final and helped his club into the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Gabonese ace Aubameyang started his senior career with AC Milan, but he did not make a single appearance for the Italians before loan spells with Dijon, Lille and Monaco.

At the end of 2011, Aubameyang signed with St-Etienne on a permanent basis and enjoyed a terrific breakout season in 2012-13, finishing behind only Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the Ligue 1 scoring charts.

Was Pierre Emerick Aubameyang's price-tag justified?

Despite having added Alexandre Lacazette to their ranks earlier in the season, Arsenal felt they needed more attacking firepower, and Aubameyang fit the bill.

There was a lot of hype around his arrival, and as one of the most sought-after strikers in the world, the price tag of £57.4 million looked justified and when you take his time at Arsenal into consideration, few will deny his impact in the Premier League justified the price-tag in the end.

Pierre Emerick Aubameyang's time at Arsenal

Aubameyang joined midway through the season, but that did not stop him from making an electric start to life at Arsenal.

The forward became the first player to score five times in his first six games for the club, and in Wenger's final home game in charge of the club, Aubameyang netted a brace in a 5-0 win over Burnley.

Fans could not have asked for much more from Aubameyang in his first few months at the North London club, but he continued to excel in his first full season in 2018-19, sharing the Golden Boot with Mo Salah and Sadio Mane on 22 goals and helping the Gunners reach the Europa League final.

There were many highlights of Aubameyang's Arsenal career, but two come to mind as his best moments.

The first came in the Europa League in May 2019 when Aubameyang bagged his first hat-trick for Arsenal in a 4-2 win over Valencia which sent the club through to their second European final in 13 years. That did not result in silverware as Arsenal lost to Chelsea in the final, but in August 2020, Aubameyang played an integral role in securing a trophy win, converting a penalty and scoring the winner in the FA Cup final against Chelsea. The Gunners won 2-1, and Aubameyang became the first African to win the competition as captain.

Aubameyang rarely put a foot wrong during his prime at Arsenal, but his time with the Gunners during the 2021-22 season will not be looked back on fondly.

Aubameyang scored just four times in 14 league appearances for Arsenal that season before being omitted from the squad by new manager Mikel Arteta for disciplinary reasons.

Aubameyang was later stripped of the Arsenal captaincy, and a swift departure to Barcelona followed at the start of February 2022.

Like his arrival, Aubameyang's departure from Arsenal happened mid-season as he signed a contract with Barcelona after leaving the Gunners by mutual consent.

Pierre Emerick Aubameyang: Final Thoughts

Although his departure may have left a sour taste in the mouths of many Arsenal fans, Aubameyang will nonetheless be regarded as one of the most talented forwards to have played for the club.

Not only did he help Arsenal win the FA Cup and reach the finals of both the EFL Cup and Europa League, but he also claimed the Premier League Golden Boot and finished his Arsenal career with 92 goals in 163 appearances in all competitions, so his overall tenure should be regarded as a success.

Success: Yes!

Arsenal Expensive Signings: Ben White (£50 Million)

  • Name: Benjamin White
  • Signed From: Brighton
  • Price: £50 million
  • Position: Defender
  • Nationality: English

About the Ben White Signing

Ben White joined Arsenal from Brighton and since then, he hasn't looked out of place in the Arsenal backline, Leeds United were the other club who were in the running to sign White and their following seasons could have looked dramatically different if they pulled off the signing. White, 23 at the time of signing, was deemed 'ahead of his age' in regards to maturity and composure which many thought was what was missing from the Arsenal defence.

Why did Arsenal sign Ben White

Eighth place and a Europa League Semi-final were as good as it got for Mikel Arteta during the 2020/21 season and despite having a fairly solid defensive record, Rob Holding and David Luiz simply weren't good enough for the Arsenal defence and this is why many thought that Arsenal would bring in Ben White as a central defender. However, their options at right-back were equally as bad, so signing a player that could play both roles exceptionally well made sense.

White picked up the Player of the Season award for Brighton and made his England debut just one month before signing for the Gunners. However, he was also named in the Championship Team of the Year the season prior.

Was Ben White's Price-Tag justified

Many will argue that £50 million for a defender will never be justified. White signed for Arsenal as one of the most high-rated defenders in the Premier League following some stellar performances for Brighton, it was rumoured that White was set to sign for Leeds United after a successful loan spell a few seasons prior. However, those were swiftly squashed when Manchester City and Arsenal entered the equation. In the modern day, £50 million for a player as highly regarded as White is regarded as good business.

If Arsenal finalise the signing of Jurrien Timber, then the price for Ben White could come into question. However, based on his performances for Brighton & Hove Albion and Arsenal, Ben White is a defender who has justified their price tag, especially when you compare him with other defenders of a similar price.

Ben White's time at Arsenal

Arsenal have gone from strength to strength with Ben White in the team, they lost their first three games of the season with White picking up an illness after the first of the season against Brentford before being comfortably beaten by Chelsea and Manchester City. Following that, on White's return Arsenal would go on an eight game unbeaten run, where White was a standout player.

He struggled for consistent gametime after the signing of William Saliba, who shone in a season where Arsenal should have gone on to win the league title in many people's opinion.

White then switched to right-back from his typical centre-back position and arguably scored one of the most important goals of Arsenal's season as they came back as they came back from 2-0 down to beat Bournemouth 3-2, with White scoring a volley to level to scoreline.

Ben White: Final Thoughts

For the timebeing, Ben White looks like a good signing for Arsenal. However, as mentioned above Jurrien Timber is strongly linked with the Gunners at this point and that could spell the end of consistent gametime for White at Arsenal and eventually lead to him moving elsewhere. If that is the case, then White will look back on his time at Arsenal fondly but it may be a time of unfulfilled potential, White is a fantastic player but his time at Arsenal may be coming to an end and if that is the case, it may sway opinions of him in the future.

As it stands, we regard the Ben White signing as a relatively successful one as Arsenal have seen significant defensive improvements since he signed for the club.

Success: Yes!

Arsenal Expensive Signings: Alexandre Lacazette (£46.5 Million)

  • Name: Alexandre Lacazette
  • Signed From: Lyon
  • Price: £46.5million
  • Position: Forward
  • Nationality: French

About the Alexandre Lacazette Signing

Arsene Wenger, the then manager of Arsenal in 2017, had made no secret of his admiration for Lacazette, having been monitoring the Lyon frontman for several campaigns. Eventually, after Lacazette had, according to sources close to Wenger, "matured", and also after he had completed a third straight 20-plus goal campaign in Ligue 1, the London club pounced.

Just a few weeks after Lacazette's proposed switch to Atletico Madrid had been scuppered courtesy of a transfer ban imposed on the Spanish giants, the Frenchman, then aged 26, left his hometown club for Arsenal, signing a £46.5million, five-year deal on July 5, 2017.

Why did Arsenal sign Alexandre Lacazette

Lacazette was a couple of weeks shy of his 19th birthday when he made his first-team debut for Lyon in May 2010, the start of a glorious few seasons at the French club. He made a few fleeting appearances in 2010-11 behind Bafetimbi Gomis and top scorer Lisandro Lopez, and when Lopez left the club in 2013 Lacazette took his opportunities.

That season, 2013-14, was his first as a regular starter and he finished up as Lyon's top league scorer with 16 goals – and then the floodgates really opened. By now regarded as one of France's hottest properties, he scored 27 league goals in 2014-15 (winning him the Ligue 1 Golden Boot), 21 in the next campaign and finally 28 in the season before his move to London.

Was Alexandre Lacazette's price-tag justified?

There weren't too many dissenting voices at the price tag Wenger paid for Lacazette. Indeed, there was a growing clamour among Gunners' fans to start spending the big bucks that Arsenal's rivals were, and Lacazette's record – and his age – certainly suggested he could justify the price tag.

And Arsenal fans believed he was of real value after an impressive first campaign.

Alexandre Lacazette's time at Arsenal

Alexandre Lacazette got off to a flier at Arsenal, helping them win the FA Community Shield on his competitive debut, scoring 94 seconds into his Premier League debut against Leicester on August 11, 2017, and becoming the first Gunner in almost 30 years to find the net in his first three home games.

Injuries cost him a full campaign but he still scored 14 goals in the league and three more times in the Europa League.

Lacazette's best moments in an Arsenal shirt include Helping Arsenal to win the FA Cup in 2019-20. A season earlier he had been voted Arsenal supporters' Player of the Season. Meanwhile, in February 2022 he was also handed the captain’s armband by new manager Mikel Arteta.

However, the arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scored 4 goals in two games in the FA Cup campaign very much limited the impact Lacazette could have on the team.

By the end of the 2021-22 season, Lacazette had made no secret of his wish to leave, insisting he wanted Champions League football. He returned to Lyon on June 9, 2022.

Alexandre Lacazette: Final Thoughts

Lacazette's time at the Emirates was somewhere between success and failure, with plenty of goals, one or two records, a couple of trophy triumphs - but also some memorable misses and a sense that a player who had the world at his feet when he arrived in North London never quite living up to the billing. Arsenal paid what was the club's transfer record figure for Lacazette at the time and when compared with great players in Arsenal history, Lacazette unfortunately won't be mentioned in the greats of Arsenal FC and may be forgotten in a few years by some Arsenal fans.

Success: No.

Will Declan Rice succeed at Arsenal?

It could be argued that Declan Rice becomes Arsenal's record signing with less pedigree than any of the names above. However, captaining West Ham to their first piece of silverware in over forty years is no easy feat. Arsenal look likely to get their man and have made some good moves in the transfer market in recent years. They beat the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City to the deal and is one of the biggest signings in Premier League history.

Although the initial fee is a whopping £100 million, Arsenal players will be delighted to have Declan Rice in the team and we believe that the Emirates Stadium will be chanting the name of Declan Rice for years to come.

Will Declan Rice be a success? Yes!

Will Kai Havertz succeed at Arsenal

Kai Havertz to Arsenal is a transfer that will divide the entirety of English football on whether or not he'll be a success. A disappointing spell at Chelsea saw Havertz main utilised as a striker in the false-nine role. It is rumoured that Havertz will be used in a deeper role at Arsenal, which is certainly a risk for the Gunners. However, the skill that Havertz has on the ball is astonishing, so we firmly believe that he'll shine in the deeper role.

Will Kai Havertz be a success? Yes!

Take Time to Think | | 18+

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