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Wenger hails undervalued Coquelin

Francis Coquelin of Arsenal challenges Willian of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on April 26.

LONDON, May 20- Arsene Wenger has paid tribute to Francis Coquelin, but believes the midfielder has been criminally under appreciated.

The Frenchman was recalled from his loan at Charlton in December and has seamlessly slotted into the Gunners’ midfield.

After turning in so many great performances, but perhaps not getting the plaudits he deserves, Wenger believes the 24-year-old would get much more credit if he was a big money signing.

“The world has changed,” Wenger said. “The appreciation today of the quality of a player is just down to the money you spend.

“If we had bought Coquelin at Christmas for £40million, everyone would say, ‘What a signing’. I am sorry he didn’t cost any money. He is still a good player.

“Coquelin has shown he has the capacity to play for us and play a big part in the success of the team.

“I think nobody would dispute that his performances have been convincing and that he is ready for a fight – even if somebody comes in.

“Even if somebody else comes in, he will stay here. I extended his contract. That means I believe in him.”