Arsene Wenger has praised Leicester City and their scouting system for identifying Riyad Mahrez and developing him into one of the most dominant players in the Premier League, as reported by The Evening Standard.
The Frenchman is notorious for his knowledge of the French lower leagues, and has plucked some gems from his homeland in the past (as well as the odd stinker obviously). He admits that he had no idea who Mahrez was before he made the switch to Leicester though, and claims the Foxes have done fantastically to identify such a top quality player.
“I didn’t know him honestly, he played in the second division in France,” Wenger said.
“He has developed extremely well; today he is one of the dominant players in the Premier League.
“I think as well that [the story] is good for football, and it goes against the usual practice in our game, which is spend and buy big stars.
“It is important to know that with quality work, quality scouting and quality management you can have great results.
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“Leicester today are in a strong position and they have certainly silenced all the doubters since the start of the season because at Christmas people were saying they would not be there and now we are at Easter and they are still there.”
On the one hand he’s correct, and it’s great for the smaller teams to see that they can still find unknown stars capable of becoming world class players. It may well convince Wenger that his practice of signing relative unknowns rather than spending what’s necessary to sign top quality stars.
While this has worked wonders in the past and we’ve seen some truly excellent players arrive at the club for a fraction of their value – the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Nicolas Anelka, Kolo Toure, Santi Cazorla, and Laurent Koscielny all spring to mind.
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While we love seeing success stories like this, Wenger needs to accept that the market has changed and every now and again he needs to loosen the purse strings a little.