From Matt Perlman : Wenger’s failing youth policy
Ed Aarons’ article was an interesting, and pretty hard to argue against. Many of those names he mentioned have indeed turned out to be average at the very best.
However, one thing I would say, is that when Wenger was finding these rough diamonds and turning them into high profile stars, the world was different. The statisticians hadn’t made their mark on the beautiful game, which essentially meant that less people knew about talent, and less people were after the same players.
I don’t think Wenger’s eye for talent has suddenly disappeared. Nowadays, there is more competition for the top talent and the list of ‘coulda-woulda-shoulda’s’ would be a lot shorter if money was less of a factor.
Would a 21 year-old Van Persie, with 15 goals in 60 games for Feyonoord cost £2.75m today? Probably not.
Ed Aarons just pointed out what nobody else had done.
In any of the last 20 seasons the age of Auba and Mkhitaryan would have been as issue. Re-sale value is important to most football clubs.
As Ed noted, “The arrivals of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the January transfer window marked a significant change in Arsenal’s transfer policy under the Frenchman Wenger. For the first time since the summer of 2012, he bought two players who had already celebrated their 28th birthdays.”
The clock is ticking on Wenger’s tenure, so he can no longer sell the future to disillusioned fans.
Arsenal have to overtake Spurs to avoid the Europa League.
Since he’s run the whole club, and since he’s the King of Spin, Wenger hasn’t been in the results business in the same way as 100 other football managers in the UK. He controls the narrative and has been able to win FA Cups by beating teams like Sutton and slaughtering the weakest Aston Villa team I’ve ever seen.