Arsene Wenger has been able to tap in his knowledge of the French market to sign many of his compatriots.
Here is a list of the best XI French players signed by him.
Goalkeeper: Thierry Henry
He might seem a *bit* wasted but he was the best candidate for the job following his handball prowess against Ireland.
Obviously, we can’t really include him here, so we will go for Guillaume Warmuz.
The veteran goalie came late in his career, aged 33, to the Arsenal to be the number there goalkeeper in 2003. He did not stay long and did not manage to get a game.
Right-back: Bacary Sagna
Signed from the AJ Auxerre, he stayed for seven seasons at the club and won the FA Cup. He was reliable and sensible in the right-back position.
Centre-back: Gilles Grimandi
Signed from Monaco, another journeyman, and a reliable player from the start of Wenger’s era. He was able to play at centre-back or in the defensive midfield position with the same ease.
Centre-back: Laurent Koscielny
Signed from Lorient for a sizeable fee for an “unknown” defender, he has matured into a top class player for the club after a couple of seasons when he needed to adapt to English football.
Left-back: Gael Clichy
Signed from Cannes aged just 16, Clichy went on to be a top class left-back who took over from Ashley Cole smoothly. An excellent counter-attacking player in an era when Arsenal were very quick to attack from deep positions on the break.
Right Wing: Sylvain Wiltord
Signed from Bordeaux for a sizeable fee after a long transfer saga, he will be obviously remembered for scoring the title winning goal at Old Trafford but also for his partying habit. Being caught clubbing the night before a Champions League game or going to Paris’s main party places and coming back on the first Eurostar train, straight to training at Colney.
Central midfield: Patrick Vieira
La grande saucisse was a giant and a hero for the Gooners, with his physical strength to win duels, his leadership and personality. His ability to break the opposition’s line was second to none.
Central midfield: Emmanuel Petit
Originally a left-back or a centre-back for Monaco and France, he was moved to central midfield to pair with Patrick Vieira with outstanding results including the 1997/98 double and it also helped France to win the World Cup.
Left wing: Robert Pires
Signed from Marseille after Euro 2000, he had six good seasons at the club that ended in huge disappointment with an early substitution in the Champions League final in 2006. Pires might have been the best attacking midfielder in the world in 2002, but an injury at Newcastle stopped him in his tracks.
Centre forward: Nicolas Anelka
In his favourite place behind the main striker, he will be remembered for the transfer fee that allowed the club to build Colney’s training ground. And also for his part in the 1998 double. A phenomenal player but with a complicated mindset.
Striker: Thierry Henry
The all time Arsenal goalscorer converted from the wing-back position he was playing at Juventus to a very successful centre forward. A dedicated professional with a fountain of knowledge on football that is probably only rivalled by Arsene Wenger.
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