With the Arrival of Lacazette we look at Arsene Wenger’s French Conversion Rate

If Arsene Wenger were to make a list of what he loved most, the first would be “Arsenal Football Club” and “French Footballers” would be a close second. Few can doubt Wenger’s affinity and knowledge of players from this country, as he was born in Strasbourg, France, played amateur French football, and coached at Nancy and AS Monaco. With the ink barely dry on new club record signing Alexandre Lacazette’s new contract, it’s hard not to reflect on Arsene’s track record of signing Frenchmen.

Wenger’s early years were steeped in success due in large part to signing and developing French superstars. Everyone know the names of Vieira, Henry, and Pires and the careers that followed. In contrast, his recent record has not been great with the likes of Sanogo and Debuchy entering the forefront of my thinking.

Robert Pires. One of Wenger’s clear successes of his early years.

Lacazette is the 28th French footballer signed during Wenger’s 21 year tenure that had at least a modicum of first team involvement. As we are currently linked with other young French talent like Mbappe and Lemar, I wanted to dig deeper and analyze each past signing to determine Arsene’s conversion rate (pre-Emirates vs post-Emirates). I had to know if  the beginning stretch of years was truly more successful than recent years and what his total conversion rate truly is.

Every fan of football is going to have their own criteria by which they define a successful club career. I decided to determine a player’s relative Arsenal success or failure by analyzing two criteria which, both as I am aware, are subjective in nature.

  1. They played in a significant number of games for Arsenal
  2. They are generally held in high regard by our fan base due to current or past performances.

Here are all the French signings of the Wenger Era. Green denotes a successful club career and red is unsuccessful.

List compiled from and cross-checked with

96/97 – Patrick Vieira, Nicolas Anelka, Remi Garde

97/98 – Emmanuel Petit, Gilles Grimandi

98/99 – David Grondin

99/00 – Thierry Henry, Jeremie Aliadiere

00/01 – Sylvain Wiltord, Robert Pires

01/02 – none

02/03 – Pascal Cygan

03/04 – Gael Clichy

04/05 – Mathieu Flamini

05/06 – Abou Diaby

____________________________Move to the Emirates___________________________________

06/07 – William Gallas

07/08 – Bacary Sagna, Lassana Diarra, Gilles Sunu

08/09 – Samir Nasri, Mikael Sylvestre, Francis Coquelin

09/10 – none

10/11 – Laurent Koscielny, Sebastien Squillaci

11/12 – none

12/13 – Olivier Giroud

13/14 – Yaya Sanogo, Mathieu Flamini

14/15 – Mathieu Debuchy

15/16 – Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Yasin Fortune

16-17 – none

17-18 – Alexandre Lacazette

The Results:

Pre-Emirates conversion rate from 1996-2006 – 11/14 = 79%

Post-Emirates conversion rate from 2007-2017 – 6/13 = 46%

Total rate – 17/27 = 63%


The list above clearly shows how exceptional Arsene’s French transfer dealings were prior to the move to the Emirates (10 seasons) and how this proficiency dropped in subsequent years (11 seasons). More advanced opposition scouting networks and limited spending on transfers are just two of many possible reasons for his post-Emirates conversion rate.

I considered Remi Garde a success despite his relative lack of appearances for Arsenal (45 in total). He was a locker room and on-pitch voice of Wenger helping communicate his ideas thus assisting in making his managerial transition a success.

Remi Garde was one of the first signings under Wenger.

I included Flamini on this list twice. Many think back fondly, myself included, on his first stint with Arsenal. His role of solidifying the center of the pitch with the likes of Fabregas and Hleb contributed to a few fruitful seasons as well as a Champions League final appearance.

Image result for lacazette arsenal

The signing of Alexandre Lacazette is exciting. He seems to have all the attributes to be that marquee striker Arsenal have been missing since RVP. He can combine to link play, make intelligent runs in the final third, and most importantly, score goals. We don’t know if Lacazette will be deemed a success down the road but we do know we are approaching the tail end of Arsene’s coaching career. One must wonder if he is aiming to finish it the way he started, with a French Revolution.

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6 Responses to With the Arrival of Lacazette we look at Arsene Wenger’s French Conversion Rate

  1. Ed July 8, 2017 at 12:30 pm #

    Doctored stats to show decline at emirates. You can’t count flamini twice and mark the second as a failure unless you put Henry twice and make his second spell another success.

    I also don’t think Giles sunnu can possibly count as a first team er, especially if there’s a question of remi garde counting (I agree that the does). Ditto aliadiere (way fewer than 45games).

    Personally I would say Cygan was a success (perfect defence in the year leading to champions league final) and diaby was a failure (too many injuries failed to establish a space in the first team as his).

    So basically an interesting idea but I don’t think your analysis is fair/makes sense.

    • Dave Seager July 8, 2017 at 1:33 pm #

      Cygan did not play in the Champions League that season and in fact I think he may have left in the January haha

      • Ed July 8, 2017 at 3:16 pm #

        You’re right, he wasn’t in the final but was in the team for much of the champs league run, even covering at left back and playing well when Ashley Cole was injured. He also played more games than garde.

        • Dave Seager July 9, 2017 at 8:39 am #

          No he did not that was Flamini and Senderos played CB. Cygan was injured in January and did not play again tat season, leaving in the summer

  2. Seb July 8, 2017 at 12:32 pm #

    Abou Diaby’s succesfull career ?

  3. Marble Halls TV July 9, 2017 at 11:38 am #

    I don’t get why nationality matters.

    Not his fault that whilst there were Anelka (imho a success), Henry, Pires, Wiltord, Vieira, Petit, Koscielny, were all decent, but Cygan wasn’t. It’s simplistic to say players of any given nationality are shit, and I don’t even think he signs mostly French players now. in the early years, he did, but over the past few years the only French player he has got has been Debuchy.

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