Silvestre feeling young at heart

Mikael Silvestre feels he has rediscovered his youth since his surprise move from Manchester United to Arsenal.

The former France defender quit United after nine successful years at Old Trafford to join the Gunners for an undisclosed fee last August.

Although both clubs adopt a similar attacking philosophy on the pitch, Silvestre claims the pair are worlds apart in other respects.

And the 31-year-old admits hanging around with Arsene Wenger’s youngsters is starting to rub off on him.

“In playing terms, they are replicas of each other as they put the onus on going forward but after that, they have two different principles,” said Silvestre, who could start against his former employers in tomorrow’s Champions League semi-final at Old Trafford.

“At United, the squad is built in little stages but always around their pillars, (Paul) Scholes, (Ryan) Giggs and (Gary) Neville. They are the club’s identity, their points of reference on the pitch and in the changing room.

“At Arsenal, it functions more by generations. There has been that of (Patrick) Vieira, (Robert) Pires, (Thierry) Henry. Now it is that of (Cesc) Fabregas, (Theo) Walcott, (Alex) Song, (Aaron) Ramsey.

“We give responsibility to these youngsters very early and we let them grow together. At Arsenal, youth isn’t just an excuse.

“In the changing room, it is simple – to my left is (Jack) Wilshere, who is 16, and to my right is Ramsey, who is 18. We talk about things like the latest video games. It’s good – I feel young again.”

Silvestre is likely to recover from a minor back complaint picked up during Sunday’s 2-0 win over Middlesbrough in the Barclays League to start tomorrow, although he is in competition with Johan Djourou for a spot alongside Kolo Toure at centre-back.

He admits his return to Old Trafford will be emotional.

“It is going to be weird going into the visitors’ changing room, to see the supporters and all the people who work at the club again,” Silvestre told L’Equipe.

“It is going to be moving. Nine years at one club, it’s a long time, it is a part of my life. And it isn’t any old club, it is a legendary club.

“I could have stayed for my 10th year and had my testimonial. It surprised everyone (that he moved) but I wanted a new challenge.”

“Ferguson did me a favour, he had never done it before,” added the Frenchman.

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