HomeSportWenger warns of threat to Arsenal youth policy

Wenger warns of threat to Arsenal youth policy

ARSENE Wenger has admitted that the days may be numbered for Arsenal’s acclaimed youth policy, which saw eight teenagers start Tuesday’s Carling Cup third-round victory over West Bromwich, with the club’s strategy threatened by plans at Fifa and Uefa to limit the movement of players under 18.

The Frenchman is a staunch supporter of the current system which, he feels, allows the most talented young players to move and work at get to the best clubs. However, Wenger believes there are already too many constraints being placed upon English clubs — from the Football Association’s 90-minute-from-home rule to the Premier League introducing a requirement for eight home-grown players in a 25-man squad from next season — with the plans from Uefa and Fifa adding to his consternation.
“It will make that policy virtually impossible,” said Wenger. “If you cannot add any players under 18, and you have the home-grown rule, and on top of that English clubs are limited to bringing in young players who live less than 90 minutes from the training ground, how can we produce home-grown players? Personally, I don’t know. So it’s vital that this under-18 transfer rule is not implemented because English clubs would have a domestic limitation and a foreign limitation, making it harder to produce home-grown players.”
Arsenal won the FA Youth Cup last season — their third under Wenger — with many of those players given a chance to impress on Tuesday. Of those who started, moved from abroad before they were 18. Aaron Ramsey was 17 when he joined from Cardiff last year.
“In England we accumulate disadvantages,” added Wenger. “We cannot buy [an academy player] outside our 90-minute radius. So already we cannot take a player from Manchester or Southampton. We cannot take a player from Asia, North or South America, Africa. What can we do? We can only pray that somebody next to London Colney is as gifted as Maradona and says, ‘Please can I play for you.’”
“We want to be the best league in the world and that is why we have to open the doors to the best players in the world. The first signs, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaká going to Spain, are not very good for us. You have to accept that the best have to play with the best.”
Wenger has always used the League Cup to blood players, and there were flashes of class on Tuesday. Szczesny, an 18-year-old Polish goalkeeper who broke both arms in a gym accident last year, ruling him out for six months, excelled to deny the Baggies , with the manager praising his “presence, charisma and calmness”. Coquelin and Sunu showed glimpses, while Sanchez Watt marked his first senior appearance with a goal.
The 18-year-old striker is London born and has been at Arsenal for 11 years and recognises this competition as his showcase. “his is our chance to show what we can do,” he said. “You can moan about the Premiership, but this competition is for the youngsters and we have to take our chance. There are a lot of strikers [at the club], but as long as you do your best that’s all you can do.” When we’re growing up here the manager tells us to ask the senior players questions, and I’d do that to (Thierry) Henry, (Emmanuel) Adebayor, (Robin) van Persie and (Andrey) Arshavin,” he said.
“I’m always asking about my positioning and things to try and keep learning. I didn’t get to play with Thierry, but still asked him lots of questions. I was 14 when I first spoke to him; if you have the chance to speak to someone like Thierry Henry then you have to take it. He told me to be calm in front of goal. He said that when the ball’s moving you don’t have to make long runs, but keep it short and sharp.”
His slickly taken finish after Dean Kiely had saved from Carlos Vela offered a glimpse of his talent, with Watt now keen to remain working in and around the first-team squad at London Colney rather than following team-mates out of the club on loan. “Going on loan gives you good experience, but I’d say that being at a top-four club is better,” he added.  — The Guardian.

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