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London calling for Wenger's Britons
Published : 26 Aug 2012 07:47:16
Having seen captain Robin van Persie and midfielder Alex Song leave Emirates Stadium in recent weeks, the Arsenal manager admits it has left him having to "start again" in moulding a squad capable of challenging for the top honours once more. Wenger, though, feels having so many young players who have been schooled domestically can make a big difference.
"Before we had young players like [Cesc] Fabregas and [Samir] Nasri. Now for the first time we have some good young British players in the group - [Kieran] Gibbs, [Aaron] Ramsey, Wilshere, [Carl] Jenkinson, Chamberlain. This time we have an English core, a British core of players of similar qualities which we want to build on."
Wenger was once berated for a lack of home-grown talent in his Arsenal squad.
The Gunners manager maintains while he still always looks at ability rather than a passport, the fact the domestic Academy system has started to bear fruit is a positive development.
"We are still only focused on quality, but for the first time England produces so much quality," he said. "It is not that I have changed. For me the quality is the most important thing.
"My dream was always to produce 60% English and 40% foreign young players."
Wilshere is currently battling back towards full fitness after missing the whole of last season because of an ankle injury. The 21-year-old has been handed Van Persie's old number 10 shirt as a sign of the faith Wenger has in him.
The Gunners boss believes the bond the England midfielder now has with the club he has been with since the age of nine will offset the likelihood of being lured elsewhere in the future.
"It is certainly easier to keep Wilshere at Arsenal than Fabregas when he has an offer from Barcelona. That is for sure," said Wenger. "It will be a little bit easier because it means more to them."