Arsene Wenger has bemoaned the focus on young players playing competitive football at the expense of training during their formative years.
The Arsenal manager was responding to an FA report released today, and said it’s vital that youngsters are educated as footballers first and foremost.
Wenger has long suggested that the technical skills needed for a career in the top flight are developed early, and that improvement becomes almost impossible after a certain age. He wants to see young players given the coaching they need to give them a better chance in the game.
“You have to balance the training and the competition,” he said. “For me the competition has too much importance and the training too little.
“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.”
And he warned that restricting the use of foreign players would ultimately be harmful to British players trying to make their breakthrough.
“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.”