By Richard Clarke

Arsène Wenger has explained how Arsenal have to compete for the best young players in Europe.

The Frenchman believes that the first Club to express an interest in signing a teenage talent has the best chance of securing their signature. However he argues that Arsenal’s reputation for throwing in youngsters early certainly helps.

“Most of the time it is [down to] the first contact,” said Wenger speaking earlier this month. “The player thinks ‘he wanted me first’. That develops a kind of trust and confidence.

“In Arsenal’s case it is also our history. When we say to a player ‘we believe in you, we think you are good enough. Look at our midfield, the oldest one is 21’ the parents believe us. They know they will get a chance.”

Wenger has a long reputation for bringing in talented young players from home and abroad. The likes of Cesc Fabregas, Nicklas Bendtner, Nicolas Anelka, Johan Djourou, Jermaine Pennant, Kieran Gibbs, Seb Larsson, Moritz Volz and Matthew Upson have all been brought in from other clubs at a young age and gone on to represent the first team.

However, Wenger admitted it has become a hugely competitive area in recent years.

“I spoke to a friend of mine who is a coach in Tours in France,” he said. “They are in the second division but he told me when they play at home they have on average 15 to 20 foreign scouts, clubs from all over Europe, it’s unbelievable.

“If that is in the second division in France then it means the scouts are everywhere. There is nowhere where you can be the only one on the ball. You could maybe be the first one on the ball but not the only one.”

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
16 Dec 2008