By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger has paid tribute to Porto's powers of regeneration ahead of Wednesday night's Group G finale.

The Portuguese giants won the Champions League in 2004 but the departure of their manager, Jose Mourinho, that summer sparked an exodus of players which included Deco, Ricardo Carvalho and Paulo Ferreira.

That trend has continued in recent years with Maniche, Costinha, Benni McCarthy, Jose Bosingwa, Anderson and, most recently, Ricardo Quaresma leaving for the bright lights and big money of the Premier League, Serie A and beyond.

However, Porto have shrugged off these high-profile departures and continue to challenge in Europe's premier club competition. They have already booked their place in this season's knockout stages and Wenger believes Arsenal's next opponents deserve huge credit for that.

"They have lost many good players," said Wenger. "You see today with some players who made a career - like Deco - that they had exceptional players.

"They are always the reference team in Portugal because they win the championship every year and have always a very good policy of selling and buying. They could combine the two very well.

"You have today a player like Anderson at Man United - he played at Porto - and Deco at Chelsea - he played at Porto. They have always had very good players.

"And yet still again, they qualified in a very difficult group because with Fenerbahce, Dynamo Kyiv and us, it's not easy for a team like Porto to get out but they got out of the group again."

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9 Dec 2008