'He built up lots of people, like me'

Arsene Wenger was famously a relative unknown to football fans in England when he took over as our manager in 1996. And Laurent Koscielny was hardly a household name when he joined his compatriot at Emirates Stadium.

Koscielny has been a Gunner for close to seven years and he says Wenger has played a big role in his rise to prominence. 

“I think all the players who have been trained by Mr Wenger have a lot of respect for him,” he said. 

“For me, he’s an important person because he brought me in when I played in France. He gave me the chance to play for a big club like Arsenal, to play in the Champions League, to play for the France national team. If you want to play for the national team, you have to play for a big club and that’s what I did. 

“He built up a lot of people and always built the man. I have a big part of my life dedicated to Arsenal. I have a close relationship with the boss and the club. I’m happy at Arsenal, I have my children here, so Arsenal and Arsene Wenger are very important to me and the other players.”

Koscielny sat out our last game - a win on penalties against Bayern - but he could return to face Chelsea at the Bird’s Nest in Beijing on Saturday.

“My back is better,” he explained. “I had a little pain one morning, so I had treatment over the past two days. Today I trained and was OK. Not 100 per cent, but I’m OK for playing. We will see tomorrow. 

“We have worked well during this tour of Australia and China. We worked well physically, technically and tactically, and we have some friendly games to show what we’ve learned during our sessions. 

“The game [against Chelsea] is for this and we want to win because a win here would give us the confidence we need to play with freedom. I hope all our players are focused on the new season because we need to play to win our first game.”

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