Arsene Wenger has admitted the growth of British players, predominantly English, in his first team has been down to the hard work by the academy and their focus on developing homegrown players to prevent their star players moving on in their prime.
The core of Wenger’s squad over the years has been French dominated, however Arsenal have suffered an exodus of their best players almost every season with overseas players not committing their long-term future to the club that turned them into stars.
There are now five England internationals in the Frenchman’s squad with Carl Jenkinson making his debut for the Three Lions in Sweden earlier this month. Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs have also been capped.
Aaron Ramsey is also a key member of the Welsh national team, while academy graduates Emmanuel Frimpong (English/Ghanaian), Nico Yennaris, Chuks Aneke and Benik Afobe are also pushing for first team places.
Wenger told Arsenal’s Official Website:
It is… not by coincidence, it is down to the work that we have done that we have more good English players.
We look first at quality. If the quality is local, it is of course even better because it gives you more guarantee of stability because the players who are English who play for Arsenal are more likely to stay for a longer term than foreign players.
But we look first at quality, that is the most important thing.
Jack Wilshere is the best example of a born and bred Gunner as the England international climbing through the ranks from age 9. He has consistently outlined his love and commitment to the club that has developed him into a star, and Wenger wants him to put pen to paper on a new deal.
He has always been very committed to this club and I hope he will show that. There is only one way to show it and that is to commit your long-term future to the Club.
He has two-and-a-half years left – that’s quite a long time. We have built a team [where] we have a lot of young English players, or British players, like Gibbs, Chamberlain, Wilshere. We still have the case of Walcott, Aaron Ramsey. You want them all on long-term contracts.
There is little to worry over Wilshere’s long term future as he’s going to finish his career at the Emirates..provided the management remains stable when (heaven forbid) Wenger is replaced. The main worry is still Theo Walcott.
With the winter transfer window fast approaching he needs to agree a new contract and soon. We cannot afford to loose him halfway through the season, and knowing Wenger/the Gunners hierarchy he will be sold come the end of January if a new deal is not sealed.
But as for the English backbone, it is brilliant to see not just for the club but also for the England national side as Arsenal are the English equivalent of Spain’s Barcelona. Not only do they play the best football by a mile in the Premier League but they have developed a talented crop of homegrown players that play continually together and will consequently gel on the international stage.