Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger sees India as football's next global powerhouse

The Frenchman also had words of caution for the Chinese Super League, having experienced the early days of Japan's J-League first hand

Darren Witcoop
Thursday 19 January 2017 23:31 GMT
Wenger has previous experience of coaching in Asia
Wenger has previous experience of coaching in Asia (Getty)

Arsène Wenger believes India is a sleeping giant and could emerge as the next country to poach Premier League players.

The rise of the Chinese Super League has seen the likes of Diego Costa targeted with offers which no English club can compete with. Players in their prime, rather than on the decline, are being lured over to the Far East.

However, Wenger believes China must still battle to win over the hearts and mind of the country's people, and thinks India could emerge as a potential rival.

“It takes years of culture and work,” said Wenger. “You don't create a top league just like that. In England it was created 150 years ago and we still struggle.

“It's a slow process of creating a football culture. You are educated as a little boy by your parents about football and that goes through the next generations.And that takes time to be a really big part of the population.

“In China it's new. So it will take time. We don't know in 10 years' time that China will still do it. Sometimes it's a political decision that can change. I expect India to come to the game and I hope it will happen.”

Wenger managed in Japan at Grampus Eight at the early stages of his coaching career, and Gary Lineker also played in the country during his final years as a player. The J-League, launched in 1993, failed to take off on a global scale, and Wenger experienced its struggles for worldwide recognition first hand

“I know it takes time well as I participated in Japan in 1995. The professional league was created in '93,” he said.

“It was the third year of professional football in Japan and you expect reflexes from people that are not there with the culture of professional football. So it will take time.”

Wenger believes those having their heads turned by the salaries on offer in China should think twice, adding: “My thought is if you want to be a footballer, you want to play in the best league in the world against the best players.”

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