LONDON, United Kingdom, Aug 9- Arsene Wenger has revealed he is “scared” of retiring while explaining his preference for scouting in the lower leagues in search of players hungry for success.
Much has been made of the Arsenal manager’s seeming reluctance to spend the club’s money, with the debt incurred by moving to the Emirates Stadium the reason for the Frenchman’s apparent inability to compete wit the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea in the transfer market.
But despite a number of high-profile signings in recent seasons, including record-signing Mesut Ozil for £42.5 million and Granit Xhaka for £33m this term, fans feel Wenger has been overly prudent, leading to consistent calls for his exit.
Wenger, who last won the Premier League title in 2004, has just one more year on his current contract, having been at the club since 1996, but is not looking forward to the time he has to call it quits.
He told the Guardian: “It’s been my life and, honestly, I’m quite scared of the day. The longer I wait, the more difficult it will be and the more difficult it will be to lose the addiction.
“After Alex [Ferguson] retired and we played them over there [at Manchester United] he sent a message to me to come up and have a drink with him. I asked: ‘Do you miss it?’ He said: ‘Not at all.’ I didn’t understand that.
“It’s an emptiness in your life, especially when you’ve lived your whole life waiting for the next game and trying to win it.”
Wenger also revealed that the recent seasons have taken their toll on him as he tried to juggle managing the club’s budget with ensuring his team qualified for the Champions League each year.
“We had to pay back the debt. We knew we had limited money and we had to be in the Champions League to have a chance to pay off the debt,” he added.
“That was the most difficult period for me. For a while it was very bad, but today the club are financially safe.”
Wenger also explained that it is his preference to scour the lower leagues for talented youngsters eager to make it in the game.
“I’ve fought all my life for footballers to make money but when you pay them before they produce it can kill the hunger,” he said.
“I’m scared we now have players under 17, under 18, who make £1m a year. When Ian Wright was earning that, he’d scored goals, he’d put his body on the line. Now, before they start, they are millionaires – a young player who has not even played.
“What I think will happen is that you will have more and more players coming out of the lower leagues who have had to fight their way through.
“Compare that with a player who has been educated here, who has had Champions League for 17 years, who has not known anything else. It’s not a dream [for that player], it’s normal for him.
“But if you play for a team in the lower leagues and watch Real Madrid or Barcelona on Wednesday nights you think: ‘I’d love to play in games like that.’
“I’ve said to our scouts to do the lower leagues because the good players are there now. Don’t forget we have many foreign players in the Premier League, but good English players have to go down to develop.”