Arsene Wenger has heaped praise on Francis Coquelin and criticised fans who find it hard to appreciate a player who did not cost the club a lot of money.
Coquelin has been the revelation of the season for Arsenal this season, returning from a loan spell at Charlton Athletic to become a key player in Wenger's reformed second-half-of-the-season side.
Arsenal won nine out of ten Premier League games to seal their place in the top four with Coquelin playing a major role in defensive midfield.
But the emergence of Coquelin has not been appreciated to the extent that Wenger would like, who believes the nature of his rise to prominence is not something fans find it easy to relate to in today's society.
The Arsenal manager has suggested that if he had bought Coquelin for a hefty transfer fee in the January transfer window, the 24-year-old would be hailed as a great signing.
"I am sorry he didn't cost any money, he is still a good player"
What a signing
"The world has changed. The appreciation today of the quality of a player is just down with the money you spend," Wenger told reporters.
"If we had bought Coquelin at Christmas for £40m, everyone would say 'What a signing.' I am sorry he didn't cost any money, he is still a good player.
"What is a player worth today? Nobody knows really. I just wanted to say that if we had bought [Coquelin], nobody would complain that he was a good player.''
Coquelin saw his Arsenal contract enter its final six months in January and before his upturn in form there was no suggestion that Wenger would extend it.
He has since signed a long-term deal with the Gunners, but there is a suggestion that, despite Coquelin's emergence, Wenger will still look to sign a quality defensive midfielder this summer.
However, Wenger believes Coquelin has the quality to compete with any player who may arrive in the summer.
"Nobody would dispute that his performances have been convincing and that he is ready for a fight even if somebody comes in," Wenger said.
"He has shown he has the capacity to play for us and play a big part in the success of the team.
"I extended his contract, that means I believe in him.''
Two good players
Competition is key to keep players from getting comfortable and Coquelin will certainly need someone pushing him if he is to reach his potential.
Southampton star Morgan Schneiderlin is believed to be one of Wenger's main transfer targets and would directly compete with Coquelin for a place in the squad. As Jose Mourinho has proved, having two good players in every position is a winning formula for a Premier League-winning team.
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