Arsenal have spent money like a top European team for years, without challenging for the major honours, until the 2022-23 season.
Under Mikel Arteta, the Gunners were transformed into Premier League favourites, running Manchester City very close in the English top flight.
A huge factor in this improvement has been Arteta’s shrewd business in the transfer market.
Towards the end of Arsene Wenger’s era at the north London club, Arsenal effectively threw money away on inadequate signings. That is a thing of the past.
Below, FootballTransfers runs through Arsenal’s 10 most expensive signings of all-time.
10. Granit Xhaka – €45m (from Monchengladbach, 2016)
Granit Xhaka joined Arsenal in 2026 but many questioned whether the €45 million fee was value for money after his first few seasons at the club. He was handed the captain’s armband before he was stripped off it and booed by his own fans.
But, Xhaka was excellent in the 2022/23 season, alongside Thomas Partey, as the Gunners stunned the Premier League by finishing a close second behind Manchester City.
His disciplinary issues became a thing of the past and he was a real leader for a young and exciting team. He was, however, sold back to the Bundesliga at the end of that campaign after requesting a return to Germany.
9. Mesut Ozil – €47m (from Real Madrid, 2013)
Mesut Ozil is on a short list of Arsenal players, post-2010, to warrant a world-class label. The gifted playmaker created chances with ease, with the Gunners’ lack of attacking talent to blame for him not having higher assist tallies.
Phased out towards the end of his Gunners career, memories of the World Cup-winner are tainted at present after his performances dipped following a hefty contract extension in 2018, but his excellence will be remembered more fondly in years to come.
Ozil left Arsenal in 2021, with a record of 44 goals and 79 assists in 254 games for the club.
8. Thomas Partey – €50m (from Atletico Madrid, 2020)
Thomas Partey was one of La Liga’s best midfielders during his time with Atletico Madrid and his move to Arsenal was anticipated to take them to the next level.
The Ghanian suffered several injury problems during his first two seasons at the club, but he played a key role in their second-place finish in the 2022-23 Premier League season.
He has been replaced by Declan Rice in the deepest midfield role since, however.
7. Gabriel Jesus – €52.5m (from Manchester City, 2022)
Arsenal had been crying out for a new No.9 after losing both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. Having failed to sign Dusan Vlahovic in the 2022 January transfer window, Mikel Arteta went all out for his former Man City star Gabriel Jesus.
The Brazilian found himself surplus to requirements after Man City signed Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal agreed a €52.5m fee to sign him.
Jesus enjoyed an excellent debut campaign, scoring 11 goals and providing seven assists in 26 Premier League appearances, despite a mid-season injury.
6. Alexandre Lacazette – €53m (from Lyon, 2017)
Alexandre Lacazette had a good five-year spell at the Emirates, but he failed to reach the elite level that Arsenal really needed.
Any forward that reaches double digits in four consecutive seasons – as he did in his first four campaigns for Arsenal – is an asset to their team but Lacazette failed to take Arsenal to the Champions League.
In total, he scored 71 goals in 206 games for Arsenal before returning to Lyon on a free transfer when his contract ran out.
5. Ben White – €58.5m (from Brighton, 2021)
While the signing of Benjamin White was generally greeted as a positive move after he showed promise at Brighton, the astronomical fee that Arsenal paid for the centre-back was heavily criticised.
He fared decently in his debut season, but took his game to another level in 2022-23.
As a defensive-minded right-back, White nailed down a place in Arteta’s backline and won widespread acclaim, going some way to silencing his doubters in the process.
4. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – €63.8m (from Dortmund, 2018)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang seamlessly transferred his fine form at Dortmund to the Premier League stage midway through the 2017-18 season, scoring 10 goals and providing four assists in 13 league games after joining in January.
The Gabon international continued that form, netting 22 Premier League goals in both 2020-21 and 2021-22, while he also scored a brace in the 2020 FA Cup final as Arsenal beat Chelsea to lift the trophy.
Things started to go wrong after he was handed a new contract in the summer of 2020. His discipline and form declined and he fell out with manager Mikel Arteta before leaving for Barcelona on a free transfer in January 2022.
He still scored an impressive 92 goals in 163 games for Arsenal.
3. Kai Havertz – €75m (from Chelsea, 2023)
Once the Bundesliga’s biggest wonderkid, Kai Havertz experienced a torrid time at Chelsea. Shoehorned into different positions that he wasn’t suited to, Havertz came to epitomise the dysfunction at Stamford Bridge.
Nevertheless, Arsenal were prepared to shell out €75m on the German, with Mikel Arteta convinced that a move to the Emirates would resurrect his career.
Havertz left Chelsea with 32 goals and 15 assists in 139 games.
2. Nicolas Pepe – €80m (from Lille, 2019)
For €80m you’d expect a world-beater, which Nicolas Pepe certainly wasn’t.
The Ivorian scored just five Premier League goals in his first season, but doubled his tally second time around. However, in his third campaign, he found the net just once in a truly dreadful season.
Pepe was loaned out to Nice for the 2022-23 season and he joined Trabzonspor on a free transfer in September 2023. The Ivorian cost Arsenal roughly €3m per goal scored.
1. Declan Rice – €116.6m (from West Ham, 2023)
After heavily speculation of a return to Chelsea, following his time in their youth set-up, Declan Rice joined their London rivals Arsenal for €116.6m in the summer of 2023.
Mikel Arteta’s side fought off competition from Man City for the England international in a major coup for the club.
The midfielder was West Ham’s captain during his last season with the Hammers and he guided them to Europa Conference League glory in his final appearance.
The 10 most expensive Arsenal signings of all time
|1. Declan Rice
|2. Nicolas Pepe
|3. Kai Havertz
|4. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
|5. Ben White
|6. Alexandre Lacazette
|7. Gabriel Jesus
|8. Thomas Partey
|9. Mesut Ozil
|10. Granit Xhaka