Football

Pitches to blame for lack of world-class strikers, says Arsene Wenger

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Arsene Wenger has sounded out what he believes is at fault for the current lack of world-class strikers - high-quality football pitches.

The Arsenal manager has been subject to scrutiny in recent weeks following his bewildering decision to not add a new striker to the Gunners' ranks, with it widely felt that attacking reinforcements were a necessity for the Frenchman's side.

And almost in a bid to perhaps justify his call - worsened still by reports revealing that Danny Welbeck will be out for a further three months due to surgery - Wenger has pinned blame on the quality of current football pitches for why more strikers aren't establishing themselves.

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“Before, you played in the park where you had to kick the ball up front and you had to fight," the Frenchman said, according to the Telegraph.

"A boy of 12 who played against a boy of 16 had to be shrewd and push to get the ball. All those kinds of things have gone. The strikers are South American today. Europe doesn’t produce strikers anymore."

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Players like Sergio Aguero, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi - three of the world's deadliest strikers - epitomise Wenger's beliefs, all of whom will have learned their trade as a youngster on the streets and on uneven playing surfaces.

The Arsenal manager then drew comparisons with Spain and Germany, whose international sides are renowned nowadays for not fielding an out-and-out striker, instead utilising one of their more advanced midfielders in the forward role.

"Germany played in Scotland and against Poland with [Mario] Götze up front," he continued.

"He’s a creative midfielder. Before that they played with [Miroslav] Klose who is 36. I don’t think it’s because we [managers] do not want to play with a typical striker but they haven’t got one who’s really convincing at the top level.

"Spain won the World Cup with basically Cesc Fabregas centre-forward.”

Wenger's point is justified, of course, with a distinct lack of world-class forwards coming out of Europe, though the question remains of how exactly such an issue can be counteracted.

The 65-year-old offered his own solution to a problem that perhaps even his own side are guilty of given their impeccable playing surfaces.

"We cannot now destroy the drainage to create water on the pitches and lift the ball to work on the heading," said Wenger.

"I think we have to find another way. What I am convinced of is that in the academies we have to specialise the players. There is an age from five to 12 where you have the acquisition of the technical areas."

"At 12 to 14 you start to develop the speed and physical qualities but from 14 onwards, when you start to position the players for their careers, maybe you have to work with the specificity of a position again, something we got naturally before in the street or in the park."

Ultimately, though, it's an issue that will cease to be rectified. The sheer amount of money now associated with football - namely the Premier League - means that providing the utmost quality is perfectly affordable for clubs now.

The thought of making younger players play on lesser-quality pitches is one that could help develop ability, but at the same time, it's hard to imagine a world where the likes of Arsenal, Barcelona and Manchester City train their youngsters on anything-but miraculous and inch-perfect pitches.

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Topics:
Football
Arsenal
Arsene Wenger

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