Arsene Wenger's reputation as a football guru for young players takes a hitby Andy Dillon / 08 September 2017, 09:16Tweet
ARSENE WENGER need not say anything about Arsenal’s deteriorating reputation among Europe’s clubs - Kylian Mbappe has done it for him.
While the teenage Frenchman adapts to a new position as a blossoming superstar enjoying the petro-dollars at Paris St.Germain, Mbappe claimed that joining Arsenal this summer had been a ‘real option’.
Mbappe went on to reveal that he even held a three hour meeting around June time to discuss the possibilities of leaving Monaco and playing for Wenger.
But no surprise the hottest young forward in world football said thanks but no thanks and instead went for the new money and tantalising future at PSG.
And in doing so Mbappe joined a growing list of players who talk up Wenger in public but in private have real concerns that Arsenal is a sleeping giant only without a wake up call booked.
Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain, the midfielder who took a pay cut to get out, went on social media to thank Wenger for his guidance over six up and down years.
But then he simply couldn’t hold back on his gushing praise for new manager Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, describing how the quirky German was ‘instrumental’ in getting him to jump ship between two long-standing rivals of the English game.
There was a time when a raw, unpolished diamond like Mbappe would have needed only three minutes in Wenger’s company to be totally sold on the Arsenal project.
Wenger was known for getting young players from across Europe and French-speaking Africa completely hooked on his vision. And he improved them beyond their wildest dreams.
His deep, considered voice alone exudes intelligence and used to be enough to convince us all that ‘Arsene Knows’ as the old banner draped from the Clock End used to declare.
He might still be able to do that but sadly for Wenger, nobody is buying it anymore.
Mbappe was extremely polite and admitted Wenger has a great reputation and he does. But that image as a cultivator of young recruits into multi-title winners is fading fast.
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s departure is a huge body blow to Wenger’s image as the father figure of world football.
When it came to the crunch Mbappe went for the overnight success, the sizeable cut of his eventual £165 million permanent transfer to PSG next summer.
Interestingly, PSG are similar to Arsenal in some ways which makes it all the more painful as they receive snub after snub. PSG have never won the Champions League, just like The Gunners. They have never been beyond the last eight in what is now the world’s biggest club competition - Arsenal, finalists in 2006, can trump them on that.
But it’s a short career for a player and they know that even at 18 like Mbappe.
And when the club that is desperate to sign him is also breaking world records to sign Neymar for £198m, there is no contest.
Wenger can try to trade on his past but these kids like Mbappe are all about the future and that’s where Arsenal are on a big loser.