Wenger dismisses Bentley talk of Walcott's departure
Friday 07 March 2008
Arsène Wenger reacted with annoyance yesterday to David Bentley's claim that the striker Theo Walcott may have to "look elsewhere" if he is to achieve regular first-team football. "I don't give a big importance to his opinion," the Arsenal manager said of Bentley. "I don't know why one player should incite another to leave his club. It's not his job."
Bentley left Arsenal in frustration for Blackburn Rovers on a permanent deal just over two years ago – having made only five first-team appearances and just one in the Premier League. The 23-year-old has become one of the few players to do so whose career has blossomed since, recently being selected for Fabio Capello's first England team.
Wenger, however, said that Bentley had stepped down a level after leaving. "When you are at one of the biggest clubs in the world you have to accept competition," he added. "If you accept it, it makes you better. If you move down you are not at the top. I believe Theo will establish himself there."
Walcott is still just 18 and, although Wenger has admitted in the past that the former Southampton player, whose fee could rise to £12m, has not progressed as quickly as he had expected, he added: "He has one big quality, when he comes on he has a big impact. He's not there completely when he starts, but soon he will have the same impact when he starts."
Walcott showed that "impact" with his contribution to the Champions League victory over Milan this week, although he will miss Sunday's league meeting with Wigan after suffering a thigh injury during a practice match yesterday against Colorado Rapids at Arsenal's training ground. Abou Diaby is also injured with a "calf problem".
Indeed, Wenger likened the contribution he eventually expects from Walcott to how Nicolas Anelka blossomed at the club. "Between 18 and 20 a player really develops, he said. "I took Anelka at 17 and a half and for the first four months he looked completely behind the team. Within another two months he was in front of Ian Wright. Every day goes for you at that age."
Speaking at the topping out ceremony for the development of the former Highbury Stadium into a complex of 700 apartments, the Arsenal managing director, Keith Edelman, claimed he was confident the club would hold on to players such as Cesc Fabregas because "there is more to life than just money. A lot of our players like being here. The club is very stable."
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Manchester United vs Liverpool - I don't understand why Brendan Rodgers was not more attacking against Basel
Jesus Christ plays for Chelsea - that's what one in five children thinks
Transfer Talk: Nemanja Vidic to return to Manchester United; Hazard to leave Chelsea; Sunderland want Radamel Falcao
Frank Warren column: Don't bet on Amir Khan landing pay day against Floyd Mayweather
Manchester United transfer news: Kevin Strootman move edges closer
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food