Wenger trusts Gunners starlets
By Peter O`Rourke
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
The Frenchman feels that a number of Arsenal's highly-rated youth players will progress into the first team and become major stars in the next few seasons.
With Wenger being warned that he will not have a huge budget available to bolster his squad, the Frenchman believes the young players could save the club a fortune in the transfer market.
"I feel that we have about nine or ten players who are really close to the first team, and to be able to say that is fantastic." said Wenger.
"I'm talking about players who are aged between 18 and 21.
"For example, we have David Bentley, Jeremie Aliadiere, Ryan Garry, Jerome Thomas, Sebastian Svard, Moritz Volz, Jermaine Pennant, Graham Stack, Kolo Toure - and there are others too.
"There is also Philippe Senderos, a young Swiss defender who will be joining us in the summer.
"They are ten or so players who are at the top level. That is great for the future of the club and is a guarantee for us.
"The condition of our young players looks tremendous. If they come through the youth system here, it is a guarantee the Arsenal shirt really means something to them.
"Previously the youngest player I have used was Henry at Monaco. He was just two weeks past his 17th birthday.
"The players I've known who have been ready earliest in their lives are Thierry and Nicolas Anelka. Anelka was just 17 when I brought him to Arsenal.
"If I had the choice then of course I would always bring a player through from within.
"But all of us, the fans as well, are torn between wanting to see these young players and winning the game. But I always say that if you are good enough, you will get your chance. There are players here who, the first chance I get, I will put in the team."
Wenger accepts that not all the youngsters at Highbury will make the grade into the first team, but he is hoping to develop more and more young players to make the breakthrough after being forced into making Arsenal as a major force at home and abroad by spending heavily in the transfer market.
"You have to accept that at a club like Arsenal, we work 90 percent for the lower divisions," added Wenger.
"Only a few can make it here but we are helping to develop the overall level of English football because the rest go to other clubs with the benefit of the training they have had here.
"When I first joined the club, I could not really look at the younger players coming through. I had to buy players.
"Now at the end of this season, I can extend Dennis Bergkamp for another year but I can also give a chance to Aliadiere and Bentley."