By Richard Clarke
When Aaron Ramsey arrived from Cardiff on June 13 this year the press release announcing the signing quoted him saying: “Arsenal are a Club which always gives young players an opportunity at the highest level of the game and I am going to work my hardest to be part of future successes here.”
A first ‘opportunity at the highest level’ arrives tonight against Twente in the Champions League qualifier first leg. And it will be the first indication of what ‘future successes' we can expect from him.
The chance has come earlier than anticipated due a raft of midfield injuries but, speaking at Tuesday's pre-match press conference, his manager portrayed full confidence in the highly-rated 17-year-old.
“If you are a good football player you are a good football player whether it’s in the Champions League or in another game,” he said. “That means when you have the ball you make an intelligent decision. If you play against your friends on the beach or in a big game it’s exactly the same. If you are a good player you are a good player.
He added: “Aaron has the ingredients to become a good player. He has a fantastic engine, he has a good build and good technique, although I do feel he has to improve that. He has good vision too but he has to improve the defensive part of his game and his positioning on the pitch.”
It was not perhaps a vision of the perfect player but then, at 17, who is? Wenger knows he has bought a polishable diamond and, he argues, tests like that one in Arnhem tonight will act as elbow grease.
“It is like being a good student and being in a good class or an average class,” said the Frenchman. “Your progress is always quicker in a good class. Half the development of a player is to down to having the luck to be [involved] as quickly as possible at a top club.”
But if Ramsey does take centre stage, in every sense, this evening, do not expect much fanfare from Wenger.
“In England we have always to calm things down because after one month of games there is always the media pressure to make quick stars,” he said.
“These players are young. Patient development does not mean you cannot start early but it is most important to keep developing as a player. And you should not have to worry about too much pressure on your shoulders.”Copyright 2015 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 13 Aug 2008