Wenger: Arsenal must rely on youth to get back to the top

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Arsenal’s under-18s have been in impressive form in recent months and Arsene Wenger believes the latest generation of Academy prospects have what it takes to help return Arsenal to the top of the Premier League.

Kwame Ampadu’s side recently went 14-games without defeat, a run that has seen them climb to second behind Chelsea in the Premier League South table and into the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup; a tournament the Gunners haven’t won since Jack Wilshere, Francis Coquelin and co. lifted the trophy in 2009.

Ahead of the under-18s quarter-final clash with Colchester United, Arsene Wenger underlined his belief that the next few years will see Arsenal reap the benefits of considerable investment at youth level.

“I always have an eye on that [the FA Youth Cup],” the Frenchman told Arsenal Player this week.

“We spoke about our DNA and that’s part of us as well. The quality of our youth is very important.

“We invest a lot of money in there and it is to have end products. End products are players who have the quality to play for the first team. That’s why you always look around when it’s international competition or national competition, like the FA Youth Cup. It’s always very important to know where we stand compared to the other clubs.

“Behind the players that we know already, like Nketiah, Willock, Dasilva and Nelson, we have another group of young players just behind who are very good as well.

“I’m convinced that in the next two or three years, Arsenal will have a lot of satisfaction on that front. I’m convinced that the way for Arsenal to come back to fight for the Premier League is to rely on a core of young players to come out of our football club.”

From the summer, the responsibility for the Academy will fall under Per Mertesacker’s remit. He faces a tough job striking a balance between attracting the very best talent to the club, developing them as players and men and also ensuring that the environment in which they hone their skills isn’t too comfortable.

Arsene Wenger has spoken recently about his desire to see the FA and Premier League combat wage inflation at youth level because, in his opinion, the influx of cash is stunting the hunger to succeed at the highest level.

There’s also the issue of big clubs snapping up all the best schoolboy talent and ultimately not being in a position to give them first team opportunities. For context, Chelsea have won the FA Youth Cup in six of the last eight years, the last three times beating Manchester City in the final.

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For more updates on the under-23s, under-18s and the youngsters out on loan, make sure you check out our ‘Reserves & Youth‘ section, updated weekly by resident Academy specialist @JeorgeBird.

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Simmo

Next two or three years…….secret Wenger contract talks happening? We are fucked!

Mein Bergkampf

Nah, not buying it. You’ve had the Europa League this season and countless games where we could’ve seen a start or two from the young lads. And you’ve always ignored them for the Walcott’s and Elneny’s of our squad – players we know all too well what they are capable of. We’ve maybe once seen Nelson start a game from an attacking position, AMN has had a similar amount of action in DM and Eddie seems to have been marginalised after his heroics at Norwich.

Besides, which older professional on the field is going to take these players under their wing? We don’t have any leaders and until we do, these lads will be left to flounder and make a limited impact in the first team.

Clins
Clins

exactly. He is just looking for last straws. because he knows fans will get behind youth players . but wenger is no longer a good coach for young players coming at arsenal. He used to be but not anymore. walcot bellerin ox chambers holding countless players he has mismanaged. ox was so fed up he took a paycut just to get better coaching for klopp.

and even if we take the case of this season . he could’ve given Amn a chace instead of xhaka who has been for all his potential a disaster . How bad could it have been. buy apart from a few games xhaka has been playing continuosly .

Pedant
Pedant

How many players have come through our youth team and been successful (played in the first team for a few years) in the last 20 years? Even if we count Cesc, Walcott and Ramsey, who grew up in other teams?

I’m struggling to get to 10, but happy if anyone can tell me it is more.

I don’t think we can rely on youth based on the evidence.

Pedant
Pedant

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/every-arsenal-player-arsene-wenger-6498764.amp can’t find that many successful youth teamers, can find loads that weren’t successful.

Don
Don

Exactly. Long list of players who were meant to be top class players by now and all we’ve got is Bellerin and Wilshere.
And some supporters would argue they aren’t good enough

Atom
Atom

I think you can make a pretty reasonable argument though that especially in his later years Wenger has not been the type of coach that young players need to develop. His strength early on was scouting (he knew the golden French generation while most of England relied on English players) and psychology. As Lee Dixon said yesterday (and many other former players have hinted at) the players he inherited from Graham did a lot of the actual coaching of players like Cole or Henry who were coming through. If we sign a manager who is adept at coaching young players and follow Dortmund or Atletico in signing top young players rather than just taking low priced punts on players it could be a successful strategy.

Reality check
Reality check

Isn’t this the rhetoric from project youth era and the British core.

Charles Charlie Charles
Charles Charlie Charles

Yep. PY didn’t work ten years ago and it won’t work now.

Reality check
Reality check

Few years ago, we all pinned our hopes on new sponsership money believing he’s still got it. Turns out, he hasn’t. Instead of improvement, we’ve instead seen a gradual decline in both his on and off the field management
Trust me, there have been a lot of conversions from AkB to – he’s lost it, including me. I converted when we were the only team not to have bought a singal outfield player and foxes of all clubs won the league. we finished above all the big boys but still couldn’t lift the league..
.

Whynot
Whynot

Just playing the hits on the farewell tour

Nathan
Nathan

Lol

Goontang
Goontang

On recent signings, Wenger has failed to improve any player that has been brought into the club like we used to see. Welbeck, xhaka, mustafi, kolasinac, lacazette, Cech, Debuchy. They have all gone backwards not forwards.

The only one I can remember in recent years who has really improved is Monreal.

He simply cannot get the best out of players anymore.

Cliff Bastin
Cliff Bastin

So like Southampton

bdagooner
bdagooner

Haven’t seen Southampton challenge for any trophies, much less the league…

The_Golden_Wrigglesworth
The_Golden_Wrigglesworth
Assshavin
Assshavin

Except Southhamptons youth is better than ours. Dont really see anything special in any of them. Some of them are quick, but thats about it.

Hank
Hank

Project youth! Welcome to 10 years ago!

Toure motors
Toure motors

Agreed. Touch of the Marty McFly’s off that statement.

adgonner
adgonner

Let’s give credit where it’s due. Let’s respect Wenger when it comes to giving youth a chance. whicb club does that? Totally proud of our club for this.

Tusik
Tusik

Yeah, because we have seen so many youth products who just bursted into the squad in the last decade… Come on.

bdagooner
bdagooner

Been there, tried that and failed…

Belfast Gooner
Belfast Gooner

Just go already! No more wasting money, and no more project youth! It’s over!

QMantis
QMantis

Sounds strangely familiar.

Jack Action
Jack Action

The point about Chelsea and City dominating the youth leagues lately is valid but it also points to an opportunity – neither of those teams are giving academy players a shot at the first team. If we became more of a club that pushed youth players through then eventually young players would see the better path we’d represent and not sign for City or Chelsea, regardless of the money.

thejw1
thejw1

Cultivating and selling youth prospects? The more you have to sell, the more you make whether they ever play in your first team. That’s been Chelsea’s M.O. for a decade.

jw1

King+Kolo
King+Kolo

Or, as I thought you were going to say, buying those talented prospects not being given a chance at those teams… aged 19/20 etc…??

Skeleton
Skeleton

Boy does he not know what not to say right now. A new team is what we need but a team of fucking superstars. Please leave before it’s too late..

Hadvar
Hadvar

It’s now at the stage where I’m totally fucking uninterested in what he says about anything. I’d just like him to leave. This saddens me a lot. My first real season when I could afford to go to home games was 98, his first full season in charge. my whole adult life with the bloke in charge for Christ’s sake. All of that time spent having total and utter respect for the man. How did he / the board let it come to this?

Yorkshire gunner
Yorkshire gunner

As excited as I am at the growth of out young guns, shout out to Jorge Bird for keeping us up to date, it kinda feels like we’re back to square one. The way wenger talks about it, it seems the “competing with the likes of bayern Munich days are already over, or at the very least, that’s what wenger wants

215Arse
215Arse

I do believe this is the club’s vision, especially with the hiring of the fella from Dortmund. Furthermore, Stan is all about the money, which the youth vision accomplishes (assuming it works). Unfortunately the PL is too money driven in terms of predicted results, and we’ll need more than youth to get to the top. We’ll also need a new manager and a new owner.

Atom
Atom

I do think it could be highly effective if we bring in a manager like Jardim who really is skilled at coaching and developing young players. What I would like to see and where I think we are headed is similar to Dortmund in trying to sign the top young players – the Malcoms or Dembele’s of the world vs. just trying to take punts on very low priced players like we have the past few years. I think that’s a totally valid strategy as it’s going to be very hard for us to attract the top tier players and with salaries and transfer fees so out of control I would rather pay 20m on a top talent than on an aging defender like Johnny Evans.

Whynot
Whynot

The money for stan is in the value of the club. The value of the club is linked to performamces on the pitch, therefore stan wants us to win.

Alex
Alex

So no big recruit for next season. Anyway who would like to come…

Danish Gooner
Danish Gooner

In all those 21 years he have been manager only a handful of talent have come through the youth ranks the rest is long forgotten,why suddenly would we reap 5 or 6 top quality players,it makes no sense.Wenger smokescreen trying to hold on to his 10 mil a year.

Danish Gooner
Danish Gooner

wengers youth comment is as fradulent a comment as when he constantly tells us he can turn it around,if he could why the fuck does the same failings exists in this team as it did in project youth.

Munreal
Munreal

Bild reporting today that we may be in for Bernd Leno this summer. 26 years of age, has played a lot of Bundesliga football, rated highly in Germany.
Thoughts on him replacing Cech for the next season?

Possession
Possession

Horseshit…

me 2
me 2

Is this a hint that the bastard is going to be kicking around for even longer to repeat an experiment that failed miserably to begin with?

Luke
Luke

I’ve just got no interest in what this man says no more he is a joke we are going backwards he is taking Arsenal down

Dennis

So in summation..we are all feeling pretty confident about our future prospects

santori
santori

The younger players when they come in to first teams can sometimes make an immediate impact bc of surprise factor.

But once the league susses it out, you see Bellerin for instance and Iwobi having to readjust.

Its foolish to thing just bc they are performing at youth level they are going to be instantly effective in the senior set up.

OTOH I for one am a great admirer of Nelson. I think the Jeff has also been looking good again in the youth set up.

BOTH these players may have good role to play for us.

The big example in failure to promote youth to our detriment was Gnabry.

Instead of forcing the Ox to put pen to paper when the German youth was showing delivery on promise, we conspired to mollycoddle the former and ended up losing BOTH players.

At the moment, the need in the team is for wingers. We lack pace and a player or two able to take on opponents and stretch them which is why I was adamant Mahrez was a far better option for us than Mhkitaryan (an older less quick player out of confidence coming into a struggling team a good recipe)

Nelson can provide some of this but you do feel it would have been better had he also been allowed to provide this in hand with a more experienced option to learn from.

At the moment there is a disconnect between our buying team and the true needs of the squad both tactically and on a strategic level.

Atom
Atom

santori give it a rest. sven has been here for 1 window and sanhelli for less than 1 as part of a team that literally is falling apart in front of our eyes with a manager who doesn’t seem to get he’s the main problem. trying to convince anyone to come here right now a major job.

spanish gooner
spanish gooner

This is one of the areas where I feel Wenger has really regressed. The man who once sold Viera to give the midfield to a teenage Cesc Fabregas now wouldn’t even play Nketiah (who is banging goals in ever week for the u23s) over Welbeck, has had a team desperately short of wingers but the likes of Nelson, Jeff haven’t been given a sniff. Every other top 6 club bar Man City have been doing better than us in terms of giving minutes to youngsters this season – even Mourinho gave McTominay a chance in midfield vs Chelsea!

santori
santori

Nketiah was anonymous when he came on for us.

Its a very different level from youth to first team.

Akpom was baniging in goals but could hardly affect the game in the first team.

AND at present time with the team struggling for confidence, it is a poor environment to plunge younger players into.

Goonerink
Goonerink

Eddie wasn’t anonymous at all, he tracked back and successfully won the ball back in one instance, I can’t remember the last time one of our wide forwards did that oh yeah sanchez.
He also played some nice 1 2s with Auba and welbeck.
He wasn’t given much time and you admitted he wasn’t given much time.

santori
santori

This has been the problem.

he has never been able to get the balance entirely right and he mollycoddles certain players too much whilst mismanages the development of others.

Some cases in hand :

1) The Ox and Gnabry. Rather than force Chambo to put pen to paper when Gnabry was showing true delivery on promise and gunning for first team inclusion, he doted on the Ox and we ended up losing BOTH.

2) Gabriel. Rather than retain a player (who admmitedly may not be a world beater) but was vastly improved, we ended up banking on two young defenders (Chambers and Holding) who have yet to show delivery on promise.

Instead of fixing this in January, we bring in another young defender in Mavropanos who is expected to horn his skills polishing our bench. Meanwhile we have lack of cover in defense (We even kept Per one season too long rather than retire him on a high)

3) Rather than develop Chambers in his original position as a Rback (for Soton), he circulated him into midfield and then defense further confusing his evolution and sapping his confidence.

The same merry go round process to some extent is a danger to AMN who has just started to learn the rigors of fullback. Yet Wenger conspires to use him as a cheap solution to longstanding issues in midfield possibly at detriment to both the team and player. Rather than play him at Rback (which is his natural side), we are left with a confused picture of AMN’s developmental path.

The Gaffer has had some success bringing in Iwobi and Bellerin but the former is not getting the sort of support he needs from older players in the club and has become unfair lightning rod to criticism by usual idiotic fans. Iwobi is now one of very few players left who can take on opponents on a one to one but his role seems unclear.

Meanwhile Bellerin is being tasked with too much as he is now about the only pace we truly have out wide. In current system (without any natural wingers), it has converse issues to our defense in having the fullbacks committed forward to make the width.

Before he starts to rely on youth project again, he needs sufficient experienced players with belief to be in the squad. Instead he allows Mslintat a free hand to buy (be forced upon) a player who is low on confidence in Mhkitaryan that merely replicates what we already have with Ozil and Ramsey, pass and play merchants more comfortable through the middle.

Until he can get the first team sorted, it would be extremely foolish to cycle in younger players into this sort of environment. Players like Nketiah and Nelson are now in danger of falling into the same malaise if we are not careful.

MinorityGooner
MinorityGooner

Interesting Comment from DM:
And so the carnage begins. Even loyalists like Dixon are now turning. The noise about Wenger being useless tactically, especially defensively, has always been there. Inherited a sensational back four & David Dein was the one who bought Sol Campbell. Remember the story of them being at dinner, Dein sees Sol across the room, tells Wenger he’s running down his contract at Spurs and asks Wenger whether he wants him. Wenger turns to Dein & says, “of course. He’s the best defender in the Premier League. Possibly the world! But how much would it cost?” Dein pulls out a napkin & writes £100K a week (in 2000 – like £300k today) on it and Wenger puffs his cheeks. Dein then tells him to forget about the money. He just wanted to know whether he (Wenger) would like Sol in his team. And Wenger repeats of course. The following summer, Sol’s a gooner. Since then, Wenger went on to sign Squillaci, Silvestre, Senderos, Mustafi, etc. Only decent CB Wenger has signed is Koscielny & he has ruined him.

Cdm995
Cdm995

Frankly despicable that he’d say this. The horrible new stadium, the ridiculous ticket prices, the embarrassing trophyless years, they were all supposed to ensure we could compete financially. Him saying this shows it was all for nothing. Give up Wenger. Just give up and go.

Lack of Perspective
Lack of Perspective

I would argue the most recent years have been more embarrising but have bought 3 fa cups. Not sure exactly how to view the rest of it.

santori
santori

The problem for the board is Wenger’s minimum finish has been high an extremely consistent. Considering money spent (remembering that Barca, PSG, Real, Bayern, City, Chelsea, United can all spend more), its difficult to rock the boat.

Whether of course we are achieving our maximum potential is another thing. We certainly have failed to contest for the title despite.

BUT last season’s warning came in the form that we failed to achieve minimal standard for the first time.

Now the board was prepared to see it as an aberration over a 22 year tenure.

BUT this season’s continued malaise is enough evidence to suggest he isn’t able to compete anymore.

So the decent thing to do is to let him “leave under mutual consent” in the summer.

OTOH IF we should win the europa, he kills two birds with one stone in salvaging the minimum finishing standard of CL spot and a trophy (this time a slightly bigger one maybe than the FA cup) despite a poor season.

That should not be enough to let him off the hook as our ambitions must be set higher but the danger is some in the board may begrudge him the luxury of another final season (with an argument to set for a transition in 2019)

This is the problem.

santori
santori

For the sort of ticket prices, we should be delivering way more.

santori
santori

Everytime we lose a game, there should be free fish and chips paid to every fan that made that game at expense to the players on the pitch.

Kinghenrythe14th
Kinghenrythe14th

Moral of the story; Get in the youth team manager! 14 games with no losses?

santori
santori

Hey… Gatusso earned his chops in the Primevera set up for Milan.;)

Lord Bendnter
Lord Bendnter

The way Chelsea’s youth system is set up sickens me. It’s like a produce market.

Hi-brid
Hi-brid

Speaking of Mertesacker, why hasn’t he been given more games this season? He clearly felt he still had something to offer on the field and I don’t see how he could’ve done any worse than Mustafi.

Mistafi
Mistafi

I thought for the man city game, back 3 with kos mert and mustafi would have gotten a look in.

btw
btw

Yeah its weird, Arteta’s last season was the same. It is as though Wenger likes to pay his senior players to to do nothing in their final season. If Wenger won’t play Mertesacker even though our defense is terrible, why keep him at all?

Hi-brid
Hi-brid

In my view, he should have been given games alongside Rob Holding to mentor him into the role. It was clear in the pre-Cup Final interviews last season the respect that Holding had for Mertesacker and they were a phenomenal double act in the Final against Chelsea. Maybe that game would’ve proven a flash in the pan, but we never got the chance to find out. Instead, we got Wenger’s apparent determination to maintain his perverse tradition of a non-playing club captain, and a young player of real promise being left to stagnate for most of this season who must now be wondering where his future lies.

pharquhar
pharquhar

Does anyone really believe that any of our young players will come through to the first team and make a significant impact? Wenger’s been trying to achieve this for over a decade and it hasn’t really happened, apart from Bellerin and Cesc, who we nicked off Barca and Wilshere (to an extent). Would we call Ramsey one of our youth players? I used to love watching our latest crop of youngsters competing in the league cup, but then they never really progressed. If we’re relying on youth to save us then we’re bollixed.

PBM
PBM

Seems like a reasonable answer from the boss. What do you expect him to say in advance of the youth cup quarter final…’ it’s not an important game because youth is not the future of the club and we need to buy in ready made talent ?’.how would that help the team to prepare for tonight’s game..ffs give the man a break…

Paul
Paul

“I’m convinced that in the next two or three years, Arsenal will have a lot of satisfaction on that front. I’m convinced that the way for Arsenal to come back to fight for the Premier League is to rely on a core of young players to come out of our football club.” Mate, it’s a bit late to go for the Ferguson method.

TR10
TR10

Go manage Southampton or something if that’s what you want.

B-O-T
B-O-T

Arsene having belief in players and convinced of a young player ability to make it to the top hardly fills me with any confidence these days.