Extra: Boss on defence, Messi, England

Nacho Monreal
Nacho Monreal

Read some extra quotes from Arsene Wenger's pre-match press conference. For more headlines, visit our Digest page.

on the defence and Monreal playing at centre back…
We lost experience. We lost two players with experience - Debuchy and Koscielny. If you look [at us] as a unit, I want to give credit to my team for defending well because we are in the top two teams in the speed to win the ball back, we are the team that allows teams to get into their final third less than anybody else. Where we have to be more clinical is in the chances we give away. We give very few away, but we have to be a bit more clinical in that.

"I don't think it's in [England's] interest to overload the players during the summer preceding the European Championship"

on his players featuring at next year's under-21 tournament…
It depends. If Roy Hodgson wants to do well at the European Championship, I don't think it's in his interest to overload the players during the summer preceding the European Championship. The European under-21 [tournament starts] on June 17. The training starts at the beginning of July, then you count 50 to 55 games and then going to the European Championship without any holiday. I don't think that's ideal for the preparation of the English European campaign.

on Rooney and if the England captaincy has rejuvenated him…
I personally believe that Wayne Rooney is a centre forward. He played in that role on Tuesday night and he did very well. I'm not surprised. He scored that goal against David Seaman when he was 16 years of age. That day I came out and said 'this guy will make an exceptional career'. He has all you want from a top-class player. He works hard, is committed, classy and understands the game. Because he works so hard, maybe that's why he played in different positions. I'm not surprised. For me, yes [he is world-class].

on how close he was to signing Messi…
I think, in the end, he was not so keen to move, because it was at a period where Fabregas came and Fabregas and Messi played together in the same team. We wanted to take Fabregas, Messi and Pique. It worked only for Fabregas. It was not completely down to [buying Messi] a flat in the end. It was down to the fact that in the end Messi was comfortable at Barcelona.

on Louis van Gaal…
He’s close to my age, you know. We are of the same generation. He’s passionate, competent, intelligent and has personality. Without those qualities you don’t last for such a long time like he has, in international football as well. He has the qualities to do [a big job at Manchester United]. They are still candidates to finish in the top four.

on Alexis Sanchez…
He looked a big jaded just before he went [on international duty] and I will have to check him before tomorrow. Don’t ask him the question because he will say he’s perfect.

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