Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has said Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can match Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Robin van Persie.
The Gunners manager has been praising the 18-year-old, but agrees with Oxlade-Chamberlain’s own comments saying he needs to improve defensively.
The former Southampton starlet was exceptional against Manchester City in the Carling Cup on Tuesday at the Emirates Stadium, and Wenger believes he will continue to improve.
“Defending is not his preferred side but unfortunately at the top level today you have Messi doing it, Rooney, Ronaldo, Van Persie - so why should he not do it?” said the Frenchman.
“There is no other way to succeed anymore. That's why, of course, I believe he has the quality to do it. He has the physical ability and he is not scared to go into challenges. He can take a challenge.
“To add that to his game will make him stronger because he will win some balls in areas where he can be dangerous. He's a player who has an impact,” enthused Wenger.
“If you look at the whole picture when you think him, Frimpong, Coquelin, Ramsey and Wilshere just in midfield - we have absolutely exceptional talent and it's very important that we continue to develop them very well.”
Wenger has also warned the British press not to expect too much from the England Under-21 star, but conceded he would enjoy seeing ‘The Ox’ at Euro 2012.
"I would like to see [him go to Euro 2012] but let's go step by step. I think in England you always take the fast track,” added the Gunners chief.
“To go to the European Championships you need experience in the Premier League so it is important he gets that first.”
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