By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger says top-class scouting has been integral to Swansea City's emergence as a Premier League force.
The Swans were tipped for relegation last season after winning promotion to the top flight via the play-offs, but they were a revelation under Brendan Rodgers and finished a creditable 11th.
Michael Laudrup has continued Rodgers' fine work this season to guide Swansea into eighth place - just behind their next opponents, Arsenal. And Swansea's approach to team building on a limited budget has caught the eye of Wenger.
"There [are] two keys to success, apart from the quality of the coaching and developing players," he said. "[They are] producing young players within your ranks or scouting well and buying intelligently away from home.
"Of course you could have a third way, just to take the best players in the world and buy them - but nobody needs scouts to do that. You don’t need anybody to buy Messi or Ronaldo. But you need good scouts to find a player [at] a smaller club, who is a top-quality player that nobody has seen.
"You can imagine that some players are still unknown and are good, and you have to find them."
Michu was one of those 'unknowns' when he moved from Rayo Vallecano to the Liberty Stadium in the summer but is now hot property after eight goals in the Premier League.
Chico, Pablo Hernandez and Angel Rangel complete a strong Spanish contingent at Swansea and Wenger likes what he's seen from them.
"They have done really well," he said. "They have adapted well.
"These are players who are difficult to find if you don't know where. You have to be in touch on a daily basis with these players to see how good they are. They maybe didn't have the name, but they had the quality and he [Laudrup] saw that.
"Four Spanish clubs will be qualified [for the knockout stages] of the Champions league. That tells you a lot. Within that four, you don't have Atletico Madrid, who are second in the league. That shows you the Spanish league is very strong."
Watch the full interview with the boss on Arsenal Player soon.
- Join the conversation on Twitter: #AFCvSCFC