By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger believes Wayne Rooney can follow in Cesc Fabregas’ footsteps and make his mark in a foreign country.
The Manchester United star will arrive at Emirates Stadium on Sunday as arguably the continent’s in-form striker but Rooney’s capacity to transmit his Premier League success to Europe’s other top leagues has been called into question by Jorge Valdano, the Director General of Real Madrid.
Wenger couldn’t disagree more. He has seen Rooney at close quarters since the 24-year-old burst onto the scene as a teenager and has no doubts that the England international could shine in La Liga or Serie A.
“I think Rooney can frankly play anywhere,” said Wenger.
“I believe he has all the ingredients of a modern player, plus the mental strength and British commitment.
“Something you would not question is the talent of Rooney but that does not mean he will make the difference on Sunday [when Arsenal face Manchester United]. I don’t question his talent at all, he can play anywhere in the world.”
Of course, Wenger has his own youthful talisman to turn to this weekend. Like Rooney, Cesc Fabregas made his debut as a precocious 16-year-old and is now the leader of a top European team.
Unlike Rooney, Fabregas had to overcome the hurdle of adapting to a new country, a new language and a new culture while hitting the heights as a footballer. According to Wenger, that makes Fabregas’ success all the more impressive.
''It is always difficult at 16 years of age to leave your country and go to a foreign country,” he said.
“Football-wise is was not more difficult for Fabregas because once you are on the pitch, especially at Arsenal, you are not the only one on the pitch from a foreign country.
“What was difficult for Fabregas was to move early at such a difficult age away from his country. The mental side of it was more difficult, but not in football terms.''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 29 Jan 2010