Arsene Wenger, now FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development, has shed light on his ambitious plan to revolutionise football education worldwide in an exclusive interview with the Independent.
Wenger’s storied career centred around Arsenal, but he has now taken on a challenge of unprecedented proportions.
He is on a mission to enhance the quality and accessibility of football across 211 countries.
Wenger candidly acknowledged the scale of his new role. From his Zurich office, overlooking pitches of all types, he joked that he would rather be on the field coaching a team.
His current mission is even more significant – improving football globally. Wenger also believes that football can change the world on a human level.
One of Wenger’s key focuses is identifying talent deserts. He shares his frustration upon visiting countries such as the Ivory Coast, where a lack of official youth games has left many talented children without opportunities to pursue their dreams.
His vision is to ensure every child can participate in football regardless of location or resources.
The scarcity of goalscorers in the modern game is another concern for Wenger.
He suggests the need for specialised training to create more prolific strikers, referencing players such as Erling Braut Haaland as examples of the classic striker mentality.
Wenger said: “If I look at Haaland – Haaland is, for me, the real typical striker. He looks like he is ready for the fight, ready to be focused on only scoring goals.
“Like [Olivier] Giroud is a real striker in mentality, that explains why he’s still playing at 36.
“And [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic, [Karim] Benzema – they have been educated for the fight, they have been educated to finish as well.
The evolution of football also impacts defenders, who must now combine defensive skills with technical abilities, posing a challenge for clubs in their recruitment efforts.
Wenger touches upon the youth market’s transformation and the valuation of young talents. Clubs increasingly invest in younger players, driving up prices and intensifying pressure on them at an early age.
“What is happening now is because clubs think that confirmed players are so expensive, they try to fight for the younger players,” he added. “They are thinking they will get them at a cheaper price.
“The fact that everybody thinks the same makes the prices of the younger players too high, in my opinion. Why? Because it is at 19, 20, 21 where you see if the player has the capacity to cope with the pressure.”
The globalisation challenge is a central theme of Wenger’s mission. He emphasises the concentration of football wealth in a few European clubs and calls for the development of football culture and education worldwide.
His vision includes football in smaller countries producing quality players, and thriving domestic leagues.
Wenger’s transition from club management to FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development reveals his passionate commitment to transforming football at all levels.
His vision aims to make football more accessible, inclusive and fulfilling for aspiring players worldwide.
Wenger’s insights into talent development, coaching, and the globalisation of the sport offer a fresh perspective on how football can change the world.
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