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By ESPN Staff

Wenger hits back at Rummenigge criticism

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has hit back at Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge after the German launched a stinging criticism of his policy of signing players from overseas at a very young age.

Rummenigge hit out at the Frenchman in an interview with Sport Bild magazine, attacking the way the Gunners have recruited players from abroad such as Cesc Fabregas. The Spaniard moved to London from the Barcelona youth set-up when he was just 16.

But Wenger insisted Bayern used exactly the same tactics to strengthen their own squad, citing the example of Paraguayan striker Roque Santa Cruz who moved to Germany from South America when he was still 17.

When asked about Rummenigge's comments after Wednesday night's Champions League match against Manchester United, Wenger said: "It is an old speech. Look at Santa Cruz at Blackburn. Ask him what age he came to Bayern Munich. Then you have an answer for Karl-Heinz Rummenigge."

Former West Germany striker Rummenigge told Bild: "Wenger seems to take a host of players from France or wherever else each year and this has got to be prevented.

"The best example has got to be Fabregas. He transferred to London from Barcelona as a 15-year-old for nothing because he could only be contractually bound at the age of 16."

Wenger has a strong tradition of recruiting young players from across Europe, having also signed a 17-year-old Nicolas Anelka from Paris St Germain for £500,000.

More recently, the club brought in Armand Traore from Monaco as a 16-year-old, Gael Clichy from Cannes aged 18 and Denilson from Sao Paulo also aged 18.

Mexican striker Carlos Vela was 18 when he first signed for the Gunners from Guadalajara.

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