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Monday 22 April 2013

Wenger: Right blend of talent and stars emerging

Arsenal manager says home-grown players coming through to play alongside top imports

Arsene Wenger sees Jack Wilshere and Ross Barkley emerging alongside top foreign stars

Arsene Wenger says the Barclays Premier League is beginning to achieve a good mix of top-class foreign imports alongside home-grown talent. The Arsenal manager also extolled the virtues of the physical nature of the game in England compared with foreign competitions.

The Frenchman was asked whether there were too few English players in the domestic top flight but answered that if that were the case it was something that was changing.

“The trend always follows economic strength,” Wenger said. “When I was at Monaco, all of the players went to Italy. That was the league you wanted to be in, and all the best English players like Paul Gascoigne went there, too.

"The trend always follows economic strength"
Arsene Wenger

“Now it is England. The price you pay is that you have fewer English players — a few more would be a good thing. But the trend is changing. I have good young English players, who are playing regularly: Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Carl Jenkinson, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, as well as someone like Aaron Ramsey. It is not my fault he is Welsh!”

The Premier League’s Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) was brought into action this season with a long-term strategy designed to take Premier League Youth Development to the next level.

One of its six fundamental principles is to increase the number and quality of “home-grown players” gaining professional contracts in the clubs and playing first-team football at the highest level.

Wenger has long sought to use young players at Arsenal and increasingly those from the British Isles, but he has also noted how other clubs have burgeoning talent coming through their ranks. “I was surprised by Ross Barkley [during Everton’s 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday],” the Frenchman said. “He has all the attributes of a good midfield player. Is he English? You see, that’s another one.”

Wenger says the physical game improved imports such as Pires and Bergkamp

The Arsenal manager has also been praising the physical nature of the Barclays Premier League, saying it helps to make matches in England more entertaining than abroad.

The physical aspect of English football helped to improve some of the Frenchman’s most famous imports such as Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires and Marc Overmars, according to Wenger.

"Sometimes I watch foreign games and after 20 minutes you are bored"
Arsene Wenger

"I've seen so many French players complain about the physicality when they arrived in England,” he said. “I tell them it will take some time but the intensity of the game will make them better players.

“The foreign players who come to England improve and you get that aspect of the game as well. When you look at some players, you cannot say the physicality of the game stops them from displaying their talent. When I brought Pires here he was not an especially physical player but no-one could stop him from playing his game.

"Overmars, Bergkamp, nobody could stop them. You cannot say it's physical or it's kicking, it's just that the commitment is high and that's what you want. I don't have a problem with players who go in completely 100 per cent because that is what you want to keep in the English game.

"Sometimes I watch foreign games and after 20 minutes you are bored because every time somebody goes down it is a foul, and you say, 'Come on'. That is not football as well. We do not want to lose the strengths and what makes English football attractive, but the intention of the players has to be fair.''

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Key Points

  • Arsenal manager says Barclays Premier League starting to achieve right mix of imports and emerging home-grown talent
  • Arsenal manager cites emergence of young British players at his club
  • Frenchman also extols virtues of physical element of play in Barclays Premier League