David Platt arrived at Highbury with the pedigree to match most footballers of his time. Arsenal pays £4.75m to sign veteran England international David Platt from the Italian club Sampdoria. Platt’s contract is reportedly the second for a British footballer to include a provision that part of the money Arsenal pays him is for image rights. This money is paid into an account in an offshore tax haven and taxed at a lower rate than the salary for playing football. Dennis Bergkamp, also signed by Arsenal around this time (see June 20, 1995), has a similar provision in his contract. Some fans remain to be convinced about his true class, though his pedigree as a midfield goal-scorer cannot be disputed. His role in the team will be awaited with much interest.
"Arsenal made it clear that they really wanted me," Platt said. "My talks with Bruce Rioch were exceptional. We hit it off straight away. He is a great communicator with some exciting ideas on tactics and a definite view on how he sees me fitting into his plans."
In his first season, Arsenal finished fifth in the league and qualified for the UEFA Cup, although Rioch was soon sacked following a dispute with the board and succeeded by Frenchman, Arsène Wenger. His first season at Highbury produced the reasonable return of six goals from his 29 league appearances, with his first goal in an Arsenal shirt coming in a 2-0 win at Everton in the second game of the campaign. Platt was a regular in Wenger's first season, in the 1996–1997 season, with the North Londoners and scored four goals in his 28 League outings, mainly alongside young Patrick Vieira in the middle of the Arsenal midfield.
The midfielder was troubled by injuries in his first two seasons, however, and the arrival of Arsène Wenger eventually saw first-team opportunities limited as Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit joined the Club.
Platt found himself used mainly as a substitute but did taste success in north London in the Double-winning season of 1997/98. His crucial late header against Manchester United proved a vital contribution and endeared himself to the Highbury faithful. Early in the 1997–1998 season, Arsenal accepted a £1.5million bid from relegated Middlesbrough for Platt, but the transfer never happened and Platt saw out the season at Highbury.