Liverpool made Virgil van Dijk the most expensive defender in history in 2018, but how do Arsenal’s priciest defensive signings compare?
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 in 2019 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.
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.
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.
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.
Mathieu Debuchy – £13.5m
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?
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 £3.6m (it was £7.2m in the summer) now despite being worth £18m when we first bought him.
Isn’t even in the squad this season.
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 when 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 wanted to sell him, even with his knee injury.
Gabriel Magalhaes – £23.4m
Arsenal fought off tough competition to sign Gabriel from Lille, convincing the player to take less money because he believed in Mikel Arteta’s project more than the one going on at Manchester United.
Thrown straight into the side, he scored a debut goal and has looked like he has played in this league for years unlike many of his colleagues who actually have.
Kieran Tierney – £24.3m
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 if Arteta would only give him a chance.
Shkodran Mustafi – £36.9m
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 tried to to sell him but couldn’t.
He’s out of contract in the summer along with quite a few others.