Arsenal see benefits in NextGen tournament but Manchester United stay away


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The Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, has taken a personal interest in the NextGen Series tournament and is understood to believe there are major benefits to competing in the Under-19s European Cup competition, which only Manchester United, among England's elite clubs, have declined to be involved in.

United's internal discussions about the tournament took place yesterday morning, after Arsenal and Chelsea had joined next season's competition, but despite overtures from NextGen who had hoped that United would fill one of four remaining places, the reserve-team manager Warren Joyce had decided against it by early afternoon. Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur have all signed up to the tournament, which was won this season by Internazionale.

City and Liverpool have both benefited from the tournament, with Liverpool academy director Frank McParland hailing the advantages of encountering different playing styles and Wenger being very supportive in recent weeks.

But the Premier League champions feel they already have enough quality competition at this age level. They recently fielded a young reserve side in the Elite Group competition at the Dallas Cup, losing in the final to Coritiba of Brazil. An under-17 team also lost to Ajax on penalties in the recent Amsterdam Tournament. In the NextGen series, which will be expanded to 24 teams next season, Olympiakos and PSG are other new additions. There are seven British sides involved in all, with Aston Villa and Celtic making up the contingent.