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A brief look at Arsene Wenger's youth policy at Arsenal

Jack Wilshere is one of the biggest talents to come out of the Arsenal academy.

Arsenal, under manager Arsene Wenger, are famed for their youth policy – giving players chances from a young age and developing them with the right philosophy into stars ready for the first team rather than the usual alternative of top clubs buying stars. But there is a lot more to it – much more than we’d think.

Vision & Philosophy

Wilshere & Gibbs.

The main vision and philosophy of the Arsenal academy is to:

  • Produce first team players
  • Ensure a professional and ethical way of operating as an example of best practice
  • Be self-sufficient and generate profits

The emphasis is on providing players internally to the first team, saving money on huge transfer fees as well as time on potential deals in the process. The prospect of having players raised under the “Arsenal way”, as well as those who hail from London, is enticing. Also, it lowers the chances of a departure if the club want to keep the player as well as lowering the chances of the player needing to adapt. Some recent examples of players making the jump from the academy to the Arsenal first team are Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere and Emmanuel Frimpong with the first two looking like worthy potential candidates for captaincy in the future. It is also revealed that the lower the shirt number of a youngster, the higher Wenger rates them- Oxlade-Chamberlain (15) and Gibbs (28) to name a few.

What qualifies a first team player?

As for the key factors required for a player to be a star or first teamer at Arsenal:
  • Talent
  • Motivation
  • Intelligence

Bentley & Pennant – Failed Arsenal graduates.

There have been many talented youngsters at Arsenal, however, in order to succeed at the club, they need to have the motivation as well as intelligence. Examples which come to mind are Steve Sidwell, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, David Bentley and Jermaine Pennant who all moved on and haven’t exactly proven their former employers wrong about their decision to offload them.

Arsene Wenger’s views on youth development

Arsene Wenger’s personal views on youth development are that youngsters in clubs fail because they do not play enough to have a chance to gain a position in the first squad, and that a manager must be brave enough to field them. Wenger is notable for sticking with this policy as we’ve seen the likes of Mathieu Flamini, Cesc Fabregas and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all playing from a very young age as Arsenal’s first team squad have had one of the lowest average ages over the past few seasons.

Flamini and Fabregas were in their early 20′s and yet, were the best midfield partnership in 2007/2008.

Other clubs would benefit from this policy – notably Chelsea – as they have many talented youngsters but ones who aren’t given enough trust with Ryan Bertrand, Fabio Borini, Ben Sahar and Josh McEachranbeing some good examples of past and current players not given enough chances.

Wenger also emphasizes on quality, not quantity; there’s no point in playing a youngster for the sake of doing so if they’re not – as pointed out earlier- motivated, talented or intelligent enough. Players must also be mentally and physically strong according to Wenger if they are to succeed in the Premier League.

In conclusion, Arsenal – one of the top clubs in the world today – are doing things the right way, having one of the most unique academy setups in the world – it’s only a matter of time before all the hard work from Wenger bears fruit, resulting in trophies.

[Information via ECA Europe]

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