Arsene Wenger has admitted that Francis Coquelin was not happy when he was recalled to Arsenal during his loan spell with Charlton.
Summoned by the boss because we had run out of fit midfielders, it’s not hard to see why Coquelin would be displeased – he could hardly have imagined how things would pan out and must be given enormous credit for really seizing his opportunity and demonstrating what can happen when you really want something enough, something Wenger also highlights.
Speaking at a Barclay’s event, Wenger explained what he explained to Le Coq:
“I explained to him that what I liked most was his ball-winning potential rather than his playmaking potential, so I sent him out on loan to France for experience.
“He played without being convincing in the box-to-box role.
“He then went to Charlton and I sent somebody to watch him. The reports were positive and I called him back after five weeks, and he wasn’t happy. I said to him, ‘why are you not happy?’ and he said, ‘I was playing regularly for Charlton and you called me back just to cover and not to play me’.
“We went into the first game and I didn’t start him. Then we went to West Ham United and I started him. He was surprised because we played at home against QPR and I didn’t play him, but I did away at West Ham.
“Since then, he has not moved out of the team because he sticks to what he is strong at – winning the ball and using it well. What is also surprising is that he’s very good in the air because he has a very good leap.
“I always remind him that we have gone through a long period of suffering and I tell him not to forget that – always remember who you are. That is a very great example for young kids because you make a career with one dominant quality, but sometimes you forget who you are.
“He’s a good example but the other good example is that he arrived at 17 and has finally made it at 24. It’s unbelievable how patient and open-minded you have to be.”
Since his return, the Frenchman has started 21 of Arsenal’s last 26 games. He only made 26 starts in the six years before that.
Arsène Wenger was speaking at a Barclays #spiritofthegame event to inspire the next generation. To win tickets and other footballing experiences search: Barclays spirit of the game.