By Rob Kelly
Arsène Wenger believes China’s rise as a football power can be as rapid as its economic growth and expects them to be a major force within the next 15 years.
Former Arsenal striker Nicolas Anelka and Chelsea forward Didier Drogba have both joined Shanghai Shenhua in 2012, while a number of top players have also been linked with a move to the People’s Republic.
Wenger believes Chinese football will inevitably improve over the coming years, but says they must build from within as well as importing talent from Europe.
“Yes [it can grow as fast as its economy],” the Frenchman said in an Emirates ‘World of Tomorrow’ interview. “In my experience economical power always attracts football power. Why? Because it is mathematical.
“For a country to be successful you need an elite but you also need the basis of [future success to come from within] your own country.
“If you want to build a forest and you only take trees from Europe, the forest will never grow. You need some trees from your own country.
“Therefore it is important that while [China] brings some great players in and create an elite, the basis comes from your own country through education.”
Arsenal visited Beijing last month as part of its 2012 Tour, presented by Emirates, and Wenger was impressed by the increasing profile football has within China.
“Every time I come to Asia football develops very fast, and especially in China you feel that,” he said. “Even physically you feel there is more and more demand for football and I am sure in 10 to 15 years China will be a force in football.”
To watch the full interview with the boss, visit www.facebook.com/emiratesCopyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 10 Aug 2012