Speaking recently, Arsene Wenger shared his enthusiasm on Arsenal’s youth policy and the squad of the future.
Wenger has both been lauded and criticised for his faith in young, ‘no-name’ players. Alex Iwobi and Jack Wilshere are two examples of players who grew up in the Arsenal academy and finally got their big break in the first team.
The boss believes that it’s not only ‘strong’ to give young players a chance with the more experienced team members, but it’s essential for the future.
“One of the beautiful things about our job is that we can influence peoples’ lives in a positive way when they are young,” he said.
“At 18 years of age, we know this player would be good enough for us but we have to be humble enough to accept that everybody has his own speed of development. Some, you feel are ready at 17, some at 22, sometimes, which is very frustrating for us, we have to make decisions knowing that we can be wrong.
“In England, they’ve invested a lot of money in the academies but the whole economical system now depends on the youth system. The next massive problem for the managers in the Premier League is to say, ‘no, I know I can buy a name but I have a fantastic young player and I play him’. You need to be strong to do that.”
He continued, “I’m highly involved because I know all the players and as soon as I can I take the best players into my training sessions. They lose their complex of inferiority they could have at only looking at God in front of you and on the other hand it convinced the experienced players as well. They see that oh, he is good.
“None of us are immortal. So the only way we can carry the values through the generations it to get the experienced players to help the younger players. When they do that, I think it’s fantastic.
“We have a fantastic generation behind coming, between 16 and 20. We have a great generation. So it’s very exciting about the future of the club.”
Wenger is clearly passionate about allowing young talents to develop and flourish at our club. Although spending money where needed is good, it also must be intensely rewarding to see a player you’ve watched grow up from such a young age into a complete footballer.
Obviously, there are times when this policy hasn’t done so well. However, even if the likes of Benik Afobe are not playing for the Gunners anymore and have come to fruition elsewhere, Wenger must still be proud.