'Best strikers come from South America'

Alexis scores against Galatasaray
Alexis scores against Galatasaray

Arsene Wenger believes that South America now produces “80 per cent” of the elite strikers in Europe.

The Arsenal manager used Alexis Sanchez as a prime example, with the Chile international scoring eight goals and claiming three assists in his last 11 games.

Wenger says he possesses many of the traits that the very best South American footballers have, which they develop in street football.

"If you look across Europe where are the strikers from? At least 80 per cent come from South America"

Arsene Wenger

“If you look across Europe and the world of football, then South America is the only continent to develop strikers today,” the manager said. “If you look across Europe where are the strikers from? You will see that many of them - at least 80 per cent - come from South America.

“So we have to question ourselves: what can we add to our academies to develop strikers again? If you look at the 60s, 70s in England, even when I arrived in 1996, in every club you had strikers and I mean strikers - those who could head the ball. We have less now. In Germany they went to the World Cup with Klose, who is 35.

“Maybe in our history street football has gone. In street football when you are 10 years old, you play with 15-year-olds so you have to be shrewd, you have to show that you are good, you have to fight, win impossible balls.

“When it is all a bit more formulated then it is developing your individual skill, your fighting attitude less. We have lost a little bit of that in football.”

Wenger has been delighted with Alexis’ impact, and believes he has the quality to play anywhere across the frontline.

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“Honestly, I like him to play through the middle because he makes good runs,” he said. “He likes to come to the ball as well because he likes to dribble, so he can play also on the flanks.

“The quality of his receptions is very good - that means his runs are very good. He’s a good finisher so through the middle. When I bought him he can play centre forward or second striker or on the flanks.”

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