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Barcelona have spent £123m on Arsenal players over the years (and most have flopped)… now the Gunners are reaping the benefits with Alexis Sanchez
When Cesc Fabregas followed Thierry Henry in leaving the captain’s armband at Arsenal behind to join Barcelona, there were suggestions that the Gunners had become a feeder club.
Poaching Arsene Wenger’s biggest stars has become somewhat of a trait at the Nou Camp, with Gunners fans wary of speculation every summer linking a star man with a move to Catalonia.
But has it been all bad? Barcelona have splashed a staggering £123million on Arsenal players, most recently signing Thomas Vermaelen – now out for up to five months – for £15m.
Couple that with the instant impact of Alexis Sanchez in north London following his move from the La Liga giants, and Arsenal look to be coming up trumps.
In fact, Barca’s transfer fees sent over to Arsenal cover almost a third of the cost of the Emirates Stadium, £390m.
It all started in the summer of 2000, with Barca poaching full internationals Marc Overmars and Emmanuel Petit for a combined price of £32m. At 27 and 29, Wenger may have thought the duo’s best years were behind them. That proved to be the case.
Speedster Overmars played 97 times in four seasons but found regular starting opportunities limited, with the fans getting on his case too, while French midfielder Petit stayed for just one season before joining Chelsea.
The timing of these sales by Wenger can usually be commended. Aleksander Hleb split opinion at the Emirates Stadium before struggling at Barca following an £12m move, as did Alex Song despite a fine final season.
The Cameroonian midfielder, worth £15m two summers ago, is now rebuilding his shattered reputation back in the Premier League with West Ham.
Henry, sold at 29, and Fabregas had similar difficulties fitting in around a team of superstars under Pep Guardiola.
The midfielder, poached from the La Masia academy as a teen by Arsenal, has recently admitted he is ‘enjoying his football again’ with Chelsea having toiled at Barcelona. The £31m the Gunners received was considered to be short change at the time.
Still, Arsenal’s reputation of supplying Barca with some of their finest players was in tact. But now, even the local press are condemning the board’s actions in Spain.
Daily publication Sport use Song as the poster boy when insisting Barca have ‘wasted their money on Arsenal players’. Vermaelen’s lengthy lay off has also added strength to these accusations.
But it’s the form of Sanchez that has seen a change in tide.
The Chilean was frozen out at the Nou Camp. Not content with waiting around in the wings any longer, the 25-year-old seeked a move to the most competitive league in the world, and has hit the ground running despite his £30m price tag.
Eight goals in 10 Premier League games, 13 strikes in all competitions, the quality Sanchez is bringing forward at present is head and shoulders above the rest of his team.
There is a feeling around Arsenal that for the first time the club have purchased a genuine superstar, one of the best in the world.
And it just so happens they brought him in from ‘parent club’ Barcelona.Who would have thought it?