Arsène Wenger said yesterday that footballers would be better advised if they played most of their careers at one club rather than moving around at the suggestion of agents, and that he hoped to instil such an attitude at Arsenal.
The Arsenal manager referenced a recent study which reinforced his advice to players that they would have the most successful careers if they stayed at one club rather than attempting to move to seemingly better offers elsewhere.
"It's very interesting," he said, "because the last study that has been made, we spoke about that yesterday in a conference, shows that the most successful players are the players who are loyal to their club, who stay the longest at their club." Ryan Giggs may make his 600th league appearance for Manchester United against Tottenham tomorrow. He has won 11 league titles, four FA Cups, four League Cups and two European Cups in his career.
Wenger was keen to impress that his accomplishments, as well as those of Paul Scholes, taught that stability was conducive to success, despite any suggestions by agents. "That should give a lot of thought to the players, and to the agents, because basically if they really care about the success of their players they should really think about that.
"Not speaking about Arsenal, you have Giggs, Scholes, [Frank] Lampard, if they walk away every two years they go nowhere. That's why my plan was always to build a core of players who identified themselves with the club. And I know that the Bosman rule has changed that.
"But despite that, the incident of using the club to have a good contract and to go somewhere else doesn't work. Still, if you cheat with the spirit of the game, and that means that you don't identify with the club – you have no real success."
As well as being rewarding to the players themselves, Wenger recognised that clubs would benefit from holding onto the same players, and so he has attempted to foster such a spirit at Arsenal. "It is important that the club has that and as well that the players realise it's important for them too." When asked whether his players bought into it, Wenger was positive. "Of course, because we want to develop a spirit of the club and I think that they have it, they love their club, most of these players have been educated there, they have been here since the age of 16, 15; it is important that the players realise that."
The examples of former players demonstrates to Wenger that he successfully impressed the club upon the last generation, with whom he was so successful. "Today Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry, when we lose a game, they are upset, really upset, because the fact that they had the core of their career here keeps them attached to the club."