Premier League

Wenger reveals admiration for Belhanda

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed his liking for Montpellier ace Younes Belhanda.

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The Morocco international is emerging as one of the best attacking midfielders in Ligue 1 and, as well as Arsenal, has been linked to the likes of AC Milan and Paris St Germain in recent months.

Belhanda has played a key role in Montpellier's title push this season, as they currently lie in second just one point adrift of leaders PSG.

Montpellier have opened contract talks with Belhanda in recent weeks, but Wenger has now admitted his interest in the 22-year-old, who has been likened to former Gunners star Robert Pires.

"Younes Belhanda, I know him well," Wenger wrote in his blog for French Eurosport.

"He plays without any complexities, his real talent is dribbling, passing and he has good technique which can influence any game."

French-born Belhanda has just returned to Montpellier after a disappointing Africa Cup of Nations campaign with Morocco, but Wenger put that down to him being played out of position.

"Morocco did not spend enough time in the competition, and he played in a position that did not allow him to shine," said Wenger.

"He played on the right, because they had many central players - it can happen that a young player misses out in a tournament, but I am sure of his potential.

"I love this player, but I do not want to create problems.

"Montpellier are the ones who will decide if he leaves, once that happens we might look at him but we respect the work done by Montpellier."

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The player himself has held talks in recent weeks with the club about extending his deal, which currently has two years to run, but Belhanda has suggested he would love the chance to play in England.

"Milan, I know nothing about. I think it is just rumours," he told French TV station TF1.

"My dream is to play in England or Germany. Everybody wants to play in the Premier League and there are some great clubs like Arsenal, which is almost a French club.

"Germany has a lot of big clubs who deliver good performances in the Champions League. The atmosphere in the stadium is magnificent too."

But he insisted that he would happily remain at Montpellier, saying: "I am focused on Montpellier now because it is the club that gave me fame, I can stay here for two or three years to come."
 

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