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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 20, 2011

Wenger: Young stars going nowhere

Arsene Wenger insists there is no way he would sell any of the star midfielders who steered his team to their Champions League victory over Barcelona.

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• Wenger: Wilshere has Spanish talent

Arsenal manager Wenger believes players such as Samir Nasri, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and captain Cesc Fabregas are on the verge of stunning the football world.

And while reports continue to link Barcelona and Real Madrid with Fabregas, in particular, Wenger said: "We need Fabregas. Believe me. He is a special player. He is exceptional and we want to keep them all.''

Asked if 'silly money' - £80million has been suggested - would tempt him to sell his Spanish skipper, Wenger added: "We go for all the competitions because we have the players to cope. We have the quality and the numbers. We are in a position where we can say no for financial reasons. We don't need finances. People reproach me, saying 'Why do you not spend stupid money?'. Now they reproach me and say, 'Why do you not sell the player'. That makes me think we have not worked too bad.''

However, Wenger, who takes a strong team to League One Leyton Orient in the FA Cup fifth round insisting his side are in with a chance of winning all four trophies this season, admits that it is not easy keeping his entire squad content.

He said: "It is difficult to keep them happy. A player that does not play is never happy. You need the right balance. If you have too many players it is demotivating for the players never involved. If you have not enough it is demotivating because they feel too secure. Competition is part of our job.''

One of those thought to be unsettled is Russian Andrei Arshavin, who came off the bench to score the winning goal against Barcelona but walked straight down the tunnel at the end and did not join in the mood of celebrations at Emirates Stadium.

Wenger said: "It has been a difficult period for him because I felt he did not play at his level. In the last two weeks he is coming back to a good level but I like Andrei as a man. He doesn't hide his feelings. He is a positive person. He is very self-critical. You highlight his attitude but I think he was happy, he scored the goal, went in, he doesn't even think about the rest. When you have dinner he is the first one that finishes, the first one in his room as well, even when he is playing.''

The most pleasing aspect for Wenger against Barcelona was the maturity shown by players such as 19-year-old Wilshere who has brought a hint of steel as well as style to an Arsenal midfield which has learned to scrap. Wenger, whose side are in the Carling Cup final later this month against Birmingham and lie second in the Premier League, compared Wilshere to Manchester United's Paul Scholes.

Wenger said: "He (Wilshere) can fight and play. It is more than aggression. I would say commitment. Aggression is something negative. He has a committed attitude. He needs to keep that.

"Jack is good in the defensive box and good in the offensive box. We are used to players being only strong on one side more than the other. He can have both. You can go into a fight with him. Sometimes it can be too much at the start but I like this side of his character. He is committed, he will fight for the cause and he will not hide.''

Wenger rates Barcelona as the world's greatest football team but is confident his own side have time on their side.

He added: "The interesting comparison is that the average age of Barcelona was 27.4 and our average age was 23.2. That means there are four years difference between the two teams on the maturity side and four years at that level is absolutely huge. We are where we want to be and we hope we can deliver trophies this season.

"The attitude and the commitment of the team to deliver is sensational. I said that in September when everybody questioned us, absolutely everyone. It is important we keep this commitment and desire in every training session. The real pride will be when we look at each other at the end of the season and we have given absolutely everything to go as far as we can. I am confident this team will do it.''

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