By Richard Clarke
Gael Clichy may be about to get the recognition he so richly deserves.
The 22-year-old left back has been Arsenal's most consistent performer this season and also the most regular. Clichy has 45 starts to his name this term and has figured in every Premier League match, a notable achievement for a player whose early career was blighted by injury.
Fast, tenacious, intelligent and attack-minded, the former Cannes defender seems to lack very little - apart from a first goal in professional football and a full French cap. However, after his recent display at Old Trafford, the second of those maybe rectified soon.
"I believe he is very, very close to the national team," said Arsène Wenger. "For me I think he should be in the team. He should be competing with [current French left backs] Patrice Evra and Eric Abidal.
"But they have so many players it's hard to make the selection. He is the youngest one, he will be 23 years old in July. And don't forget he was injured for a while too.
"But now he has hit many people [in France] with his display at Old Trafford recently. It was a top class performance, not only football-wise but character-wise. He showed a non-acceptance of the defeat when we were down 2-1. He was the one who really moved us forward.
"And there's still more in there. I am very positive with Gael because he loves the game and, every day after training, he's out there practising to improve.
"For a time, there was a question mark about whether Gael would last the season. He had three operations on his metatarsal and he had already undergone hernia surgery, and we were concerned over whether he would be capable to absorb so many games with such a slight frame. But he has played more games than anyone else.
"For me the big victory for me this year is not that he has played well - I expected him to play well - but that he could absorb a complete season at the top level without any rest."Copyright 2014 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 28 Apr 2008