May 18 2013 Latest news:
By James Cunliffe
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Fed up of seeing his big stars exit for the likes of Manchester and Barcelona in recent seasons, Arsene Wenger says he is now trying to build a team with a British core that will have Arsenal DNA ingrained in them.
Robin van Persie left for Old Trafford in the summer while Alex Song headed for the Nou Camp a season after captain Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri departed. That policy of selling has left the Gunners 18 points off the Premier League title pace this term and even victory against champions Manchester City at the Emirates this afternoon is unlikely to propel them back into what is fast becoming a two-horse race between the Citizens and their neighbours United.
But Wenger has offered Arsenal fans hope for the future by revealing this week that the club are edging closer to signing Theo Walcott up to a new deal and that, if it happens, could signal a sea change for the north Londoners in terms of keeping their big players.
“I believe that at least it would give out a positive message to our fans that the way is not necessarily [for players to] exit, but [one of] stability,” said the Frenchman.
“That, of course, would be a positive message. We are not there yet but I hope we get there.”
The England international, at just 23 years old, is a relative veteran compared to some of the club’s other British players, but Wenger revealed that the emergence of that group, which includes Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs, is a deliberate ploy to create a new set winners like his Invincibles.
“What you want is for players to grow up together and say ‘we will be successful together’,” the Arsenal boss said.
“Chamberlain is 19, Wilshere 21, Walcott 23, Jenkinson 20 and Gibbs 23. They are all good players but you need a core that represents the values of the club.
“We had that before and we are creating it again.
“Chelsea had it when they had [John] Terry, [Frank] Lampard and people that always represent the strengths and values of the club.
“We had a period where we kept our players together. [Thierry] Henry and [Patrick] Vieira, they all stayed together for eight or nine years.
“I think that is important.
“That’s what we work on.”
And Wenger sees this as a way to stop his key players from getting poached in future.
“I believe it is a bit easier to keep them,” he said.
“I believe it’s important that we have technical consistency. When you go for a policy like we do, for young players, you know that at some stage, when they become competitive from 23 to 30 or more, they play for you.
“If you give them a chance at 18 then at 23 they go somewhere else, you’ve basically worked for another club.
“When you go for the policy we do, it’s important that you keep the players at your club from 23 onwards.”