AW: Losing young players painful

Midfielder Samir Nasri, 24, and full-back Gael Clichy, 26, followed

striker Emmanuel Adebayor and centre-half Kolo Toure from Emirates

Stadium to join the Blues, who have set the pace at the top of the

Premier League. After taking a chance to bring all of those players

through with Arsenal, Wenger admits there will always be a sense of

frustration at potential lost. “At the end of the day when you sell

a player, you cannot complain after because at some stage you say

‘yes we let him go’ and you have to do the right thing for the

club, but it is always painful to lose players at 23 or 24 years

old,” he said. “The financial difference between us and teams like

Manchester City has become too big to hope to keep the players for

eight, nine or 10 years. “Okay, we lost Thierry Henry, Patrick

Vieira, other players before, but they had played for eight or nine

years at the club. “It is the first time now that we lose players

at an age where they start to produce, like [Cesc] Fabregas and

Nasri, who were both 24 years old. That’s where you start to become

a football player.” Wenger added: “You need to be brave as well to

put a player in at 18 years of age, and you need to make room for

them, which means you not only need to stand up for the players you

put in, but as well you have to kick somebody out.” While Wenger

may be looking to the future with a young squad, the Arsenal

manager maintains he has not given serious thought to a possible

return for former captain Henry, who has been training at the club

following the end of the Major League Soccer campaign with the New

York Red Bulls. “I haven’t even investigated that. I cannot tell

you even if there is a chance because I haven’t even made any

approach, nor to him nor his club,” said Wenger, who played down

reports he would move for FC Koln’s German striker Lukas Podolski

in January. “I do not always master all my thoughts, so [I guess]

it has to come through my brain at some stage – but I haven’t been

concrete on the case.” Fired by the goals of in-form captain Robin

van Persie, Arsenal head to City on the back of seven wins from the

last eight league games which have lifted them back up to within

striking distance of the top four. “There is a good, good spirit

there. I am sure we will give absolutely 100%,” said Wenger. “The

game on Sunday will show how far we can go. I am sure this group

will fight to go as far as they can.”