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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 16, 2006

'Arsenal haven't peaked yet'

Barcelona defender and former Arsenal player Giovanni van Bronckhorst fears the Gunners can only get better as the teams prepare to do battle in Paris for the Champions League trophy on Wednesday.

Van Bronckhorst, who is a member of Holland's World Cup squad, is one of the players who was forced out at Highbury by the emergence of young talent - in his case Ashley Cole - and he is impressed by the way a sometimes makeshift side has progressed to the Stade de France final.

The 31-year-old Dutchman has nothing but admiration for Arsene Wenger's young Gunners.

'I've seen a lot of Arsenal games on TV and it is amazing when they had the good run in the league and the Champions League that they were missing a lot of important players,' he told PA Sport.

'The young players who came in did really well like (Cesc) Fabregas, (Philippe) Senderos, (Mathieu) Flamini.

'I don't think the Arsenal team has peaked yet and they have the potential to do even better. Fabregas left the youth team here and went almost straight into the Arsenal first team.

'For Barcelona he wouldn't even have played for Barcelona `B', but that shows the emphasis put on youth team development there.

'Arsene Wenger has a good eye for young players and bringing them through. He's got a great network of scouts.'

The Dutchman holds no grudges against Wenger for being eased out as Cole came through the ranks.

He said: 'I think he's a very good manager. He's been there for a few years now and he's changed Arsenal from a side that was typically English to a more European one.

'This kind of play has brought them a lot of success in recent years and I know that the Champions League is something they really cherish.

'They are in the final and it is great credit to his work over the years,' he said.

Van Bronckhorst revealed he had parted on good terms when he moved to the Nou Camp.

'We had a good relationship and when I left the club he said he wouldn't take the opportunity of playing for Barcelona away from me,' said Van Bronckhorst.

'I'm really happy with the way things have worked out here, it was a big opportunity for me and the development that we've had here in the last three years has been amazing.

'When I came here we were playing in the UEFA Cup and at one stage we were 14th in the league. Now we've won the league twice and are in the Champions League and we are playing the football that every player wants to play.

'For Arsenal it is the first time they can win it and for both teams it will be a big disappointment if they lose, but that comes with any final.'

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