Liverpool made Virgil van Dijk the most expensive defender in history in 2018, but how do Arsenal’s priciest defensive signings compare?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JULY 22: Jordan Henderson and Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool celebrate following the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield on July 22, 2020 in Liverpool, England. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Paul Ellis/Pool via Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – JULY 22: Jordan Henderson and Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool celebrate following the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield on July 22, 2020 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Paul Ellis/Pool via Getty Images)

Liverpool announced their £75m deal for van Dijk in December 2017 ahead of a January transfer move. I think we can all say it was money well spent when you consider that he’s still only 29 and they’ve already won the Champions League and the Premier League with him in their back line.

He was also named UEFA’s Best Player in Europe, 2019.

Arsenal have never spent that much on a single player, no matter what position, and, until Nicolas Pepe was purchased last summer for an inflated £72m, the most they had paid for a player was the £57.4m they gave Borussia Dortmund for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang‘s services.

Spending big at the back just isn’t something Arsenal have done and it has cost them.

So how much have Arsenal spent on their most expensive defenders?

The transfer fees listed are courtesy of transfermarkt.co.uk.

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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN – MAY 29: Laurent Koscielny of Arsenal looks dejected as he walks past the Europa League Trophy whilst coduring the UEFA Europa League Final between Chelsea and Arsenal at Baku Olimpiya Stadionu on May 29, 2019 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Laurent Koscielny – £11.3m

Arsenal signed Laurent Koscielny from FC Lorient in 2010. Although he had a tough start to life in North London, the Frenchman went on to become one of the top centre-backs in the league. For such a cheap price, this was certainly a fantastic signing by the Gunners.

It’s incredibly sad that his career ended at Arsenal the way it did and for that a lot of blame must lie at the feet of the management team in place at that time.

In time, he will be remembered correctly.

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LONDON – MARCH 2: Kevin Lisbie of Charlton Athletic shields the ball from Giovanni van Bronckhorst of Arsenal during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match held on March 2, 2003 at Highbury, in London. Arsenal won the match 2-0. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

Giovanni van Bronckhorst – £12.15m

Giovanni van Bronckhorst arrived at Arsenal from Rangers for the not-inconsiderable sum of £12.15m in 2001. In his first season he played 32 times for Arsenal, scoring one and assisting three. In his second season he played 31 games with one goal and seven assists but his time at the club was up.

Just two years after signing for Arsenal, he was off on loan to Barcelona before moving there permanently for free in 2004.

Three seasons, 154 appearances, seven goals and 18 assists in Spain was followed by another free transfer, this time back home to Feyenoord, the club van Bronckhorst had joined when he was just 18.

Van Bronckhorst retired from playing in 2010 and is currently the manager of Guangzhou R&F.

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Gabriel Paulista

Gabriel Paulista – £13.5m

A few years after Koscielny, Gabriel joined the club from Villarreal. He had his moments in an Arsenal shirt, but generally never seemed to settle and was a little bit bonkers.

Eventually, after winning two FA Cups and making 64 appearances, the Brazilian returned to Spain.

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Mathieu Debuchy

Mathieu Debuchy – £13.5m

At the time, this seemed like a great signing for a relatively small fee. The Gunners had lost Bacary Sagna to Manchester City, and Mathieu Debuchy seemed like a younger and similarly capable option.

However, a long-term injury saw Hector Bellerín take the Frenchman’s place in the team and Debuchy never stopped whinging about it whenever he managed to get fit.

With no intention off fighting this young upstart for a place, Debuchy moved to Saint-Etienne in 2018 on a free transfer after Arsenal cancelled his contract to shut him up.

Overall, Debuchy is one of those signings that leaves you wondering what could’ve been and might even be viewed as a ‘sliding doors’ transfer.

What would have happened had Marko Aranautovic not shoved him unnecessarily into the advertising hoardings? Where would Debuchy be now?

More importantly, where would Bellerin be?

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Arsenal’s Greek defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos (L) vies with West Ham United’s French striker Sebastien Haller (R) during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and West Ham at the Emirates Stadium in London on March 7, 2020. (Photo by IAN KINGTON/AFP via Getty Images)

Sokratis – £14.4m

What to make of the Greek defender?

There is no doubt he has the passion but does he have the talent? Not £14.4m worth, that’s for sure, as evidenced by the fact that he’s only worth £7.2m now despite being worth £18m when we first bought him.

Is likely to leave this summer.

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LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 09: Callum Chambers of Arsenal celebrates their second goal scored by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Arsenal FC at London Stadium on December 09, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Calum Chambers – £18.2m

Calum Chambers joined Arsenal in the same summer as Gabriel and Debuchy. For a while, he looked like the only defensive success story of that window even though the Gunners signed the 19-year-old (now 25) from Southampton to play right-back.

Although he started well, the Englishman never hit the heights we hoped and ended up on loan at Middlesbrough and Fulham. He really made the most of those loans, proving himself as a capable centre-back and even being voted Fulham’s Player of the Season.

At Arsenal, however, he has not done enough and the club want to sell him, even with his knee injury.

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Kieran Tierney

Kieran Tierney – £24.3m

I’m fairly sure we can say at this point we will all look back at Kieran Tierney’s signing as one of the bargains of the century.

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William Saliba on his friendly debut against MK Dons (Photo via David Price on Twitter)

William Saliba – £27m

The 19-year-old was signed by Arsenal from Saint-Etienne in the summer of 2019 but spent all of 19/20 on loan with his childhood club.

At the time of writing, we haven’t got to see much of Saliba in an Arsenal shirt, but big things are expected.

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The aftermath of the Jamie Vardy kick on Shkodran Mustafi (Photo via Mustafi on Instagram)

Shkodran Mustafi – £36.9m

Mustafi is Arsenal’s most expensive defender by far, costing over twice as much as Chambers and he shouldn’t have cost anything close to £37m.

He joined as a World Cup winner and a regular from a top-five league with Valencia, but hasn’t lived up to the hype. If anything, he’s gone out of his way to avoid any and all hype around him whatsoever and his tendency to dive in, ignoring the dangers of doing so, is legendary.

Just as he was starting to look like the defender we all thought we’d signed in 2016, his hamstring ripped from the bone and that was that.

The club arecurrently trying to sell him.