Francis Coquelin's emergence is a reminder that big players don't always cost big money, according to Arsene Wenger.
The central midfielder rose through the ranks at Arsenal, winning the FA Youth Cup alongside Jack Wilshere in 2009, and has been a revelation since returning from a loan spell at Charlton Athletic in December.
Coquelin has added solidity and tenacity to Wenger's side and looks to have a bright future in north London - even if the Arsenal manager reinforces his squad in the summer.
"If we had bought Coquelin at Christmas for £40 million, everyone would say 'what a signing'. I am sorry he didn’t cost any money, but he is still a good player"
"I think nobody would dispute that his performances have been convincing and that he is ready for a fight even if somebody comes in," said Wenger. "Even if somebody comes in, he will stay here. I extended his contract, that means I believe in him.
"It hasn’t changed [my mind about transfers] a lot, but what is for sure is that he has shown he has the capacity to play for us and play a big part in the success of the team.
"The world has changed," Wenger went on. "The appreciation today of the quality of a player is just down with the money you spend. If we had bought Coquelin at Christmas for £40 million, everyone would say 'what a signing'. I am sorry he didn’t cost any money, but he is still a good player."
The depth of Wenger's squad was demonstrated by Arsenal's substitutes bench at Manchester United on Sunday. Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott came on to turn the game for the visitors and their manager says his 'English core' remains as important as ever.
"They have been injured," he explained. "Walcott has been out for a year. Wilshere has been out since November. Kieran Gibbs is now coming back. It's true, they had little setbacks."I know our future is only bright if I can keep a cohesion, and a core of players who have been educated here and can play year-in year-out together.
"That is the difficulty in the modern job, you know the cohesion is a very important part of the success of the team, but you are always under pressure to get in [players]… We live in a 'new world', people always want new."
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