‘My big fight is for better education’

Arsene Wenger has stressed the importance of improving young players’ footballing education – rather than increasing their time in competition.

The Football Association is due to announce a series of recommendations for the future of the English game at Wembley on Thursday.

The Arsenal manager will read the England Commission’s report, but says it is absolutely essential for there to be a balance struck in terms of player development.

"The time they spend in competition is too big, so to add more competition does not make sense"

Arsene Wenger

“You have to balance the training and the competition - for me the competition has too much importance and the training too little,” Wenger said.

“The time the kids spend on the pitch from the age of eight to 17 in training is too short. The time they spend in competition is too big, so to add more competition does not make sense.

“I have seen too many kids come to the age of 17 or 18 and they cannot head the ball or they have no left foot because they have not practised enough.”

Wenger believes that a key part of a young player’s development is training alongside some of the major foreign imports in England.

“My big fight is to get better education, more training time from eight to 17. For me that is a deficit in the English game at the moment,” he said.

“Having said that, we read in the papers at the moment that everyone pushes England to take as many young players as they can [to the World Cup]. Then you see England still produces young talent.

“At every single club, despite the big foreign players, the young players come through when they have the quality. That is what you have to target for. It is not to fight for mediocrity, it is to fight for quality.

“The bigger the players are that we have in England, the more the young players will develop because they develop in contact with those players. To get rid of big players would be a massive mistake for the education and quality of the youngsters.

“The kid who is good at school, if you put him in a good class he will develop. If you put him in a bad class he will not develop as quickly. In our game it is exactly the same. That is why the quality of the development of these very young players is very important.”

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