Does Platini have a point about trade in teenagers?
Criticism of Arsene Wenger occurs about as frequently as a Cesc Fabregas misplaced pass. The Frenchman has enjoyed unanimous praise for the football and results his side have produced this season, but there is at least one powerful man who has not been entirely impressed.
UEFA president Michel Platini is upset with the way Wenger has assembled his squad.
“I do not like the system of Arsène Wenger,” Platini said this week. “In France, Italy and Spain it is easy to buy with money the best players at 14, 15 or 16. I don’t like that. If the best clubs buy the best 15 or 16 players, [then it] is finished for all the clubs in Europe. If my son is playing at Millwall and at 16 Manchester United come in for this player, then when will Millwall have a good team?”
With Arsenal having to finance the cost of building the Emirates Stadium, Wenger’s acumen has been timely. Wenger plucked Fabregas, Emmanuel Eboue, Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy and many more when they were all teenagers, from various clubs across the world and for minimal cost.
Former Tottenham Hotspur boss Martin Jol spent nearly £60 million on players in the past two seasons and paid the price of not achieving the necessary success, whereas Wenger has generally broken even on his transfer activity over the past four seasons.
Is Platini right to question Wenger’s methods? Should he propose a ruling to block the movement of Under-18 players, or is there nothing wrong with the Arsenal manager’s approach?
He is certainly not alone. To choose just one example, you may not have heard of Gerardo Bruna yet (check the link), but if reports are right, and Liverpool have done their homework, the 16-year-old will be the next foreign teenager to star in the Premier League. Cost to the English club? About 40 million euros less than it cost to bring in Torres.