Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger revealed that he put new signing Robert Pires in the same team as Dennis Bergkamp to see if the Dutch legend thought the French wizard was a good player which was determined by the boss through their interaction in small sided games, he told Arsenal Player.
Speaking to the official club website, Wenger revealed that he often puts new signings in a trial game alongside existing stars to analyse how quickly their qualities are accepted.
It was the same case for the legendary Pires who Wenger placed alongside Bergkamp and after just a few minutes, the latter’s actions on the pitch convinced Wenger that he’d signed the right player.
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“If it’s an offensive player I always put them alongside very good players in the small matches when they arrive for their first training sessions. Then you see how much these players give them the ball,” Wenger revealed.
“When I signed Robert Pires, in the first small-sided training game, I put him in the same team as Dennis Bergkamp.
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“After five minutes I knew how good he was because Bergkamp kept giving him the ball! So Bergkamp thought he was a good player, they linked up well together so then you know you have won the battle.”
That is high praise for arguably our greatest ever player. Nevertheless, as ever, Bergkamp’s instincts were correct in the end given how Pires turned out.
The French winger won the FWA Footballer of the Year award for the 2001/02 season, and was part of our brilliant Invincibles side too. He prided himself on his ability to cut in from the left and thread his other wonderful team-mate Thierry Henry, through on goal.