Skip to content

Premier League: European players are suffering loss of street football, says Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger

During the 2002/03 season, Arsene Wenger said Arsenal could go the whole season unbeaten. As the Frenchman himself said, he was just a season too early!
Image: Arsene Wenger: Has hailed the energy of Alexis Sanchez

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes societal changes and the loss of street football has affected the temperament of players in Europe for the worse.

Using his own Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez as an example, Wenger has outlined how most top strikers in Europe are South American because street football, which survives on the continent to date, has given them “fight”.

Ahead of his side’s Premier League clash at home to Burnley on Saturday, Wenger hailed Sanchez’ energy levels as a true rarity and admitted he is surprised the striker has not scored more goals this season.

Image: Alexis Sanchez: Shows 'fight', says Wenger

"Look across Europe and where are the strikers from? Many of them, at least 80 per cent, are from South America," Wenger said.

"Maybe it's because in Europe street football has gone. In street football, when you're 10 years old, you have to prove yourself against older players, you have to fight and win impossible balls.

"If you go back 30 or 40 years, in England life was tougher. Society has changed. We're much more protective than we were then and we have all become a bit softer.

When it's all a bit more formalised, it's less about developing your individual skill and fighting attitude. We've lost that a bit
Arsene Wenger

"When it's all a bit more formalised, it's less about developing your individual skill and fighting attitude. We've lost that a bit.”

Sanchez, who signed from Barcelona this summer for £30million, has scored eight goals in 15 appearances in all competitions this season, leading Wenger to draw comparisons with Luis Suarez.

“I'm surprised he hasn’t scored more goals because Alexis has a particular mental strength,” he said.

"He is just ready for the fight - it's natural to Alexis. He has a natural level of energy that is unbelievable. You would love everyone to have that, but unfortunately it doesn't work like that.

“When Luis Suarez loses the ball to an opponent, he wins it back straight away. Sanchez is the same. There is no time between the offence and defence. The transition is very quick.

"When you see where he has come from, where he was born, and then he plays for Barcelona and Arsenal; he needs to have something special.”

Around Sky