Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes his young players are on the verge of fulfilling their potential – and he is confident of keeping them together when they do so.
The Gunners are unbeaten in 18 Barclays Premier League matches and will be in the semi-finals of the Champions League if they hold onto their away-goal advantage from the first leg of their clash against Villarreal tonight.
The likes of Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott and Emmanuel Adebayor would slot into most teams in Europe but Wenger feels they will achieve something “great” if they stay.
“We have worked very hard with these players to get them into the shape of a great team and I believe that has given them the taste to stay together,” he said.
“When we go for young players it is also to get them to love the club, to love to be together and to love to achieve together.”
Wenger feels achieving something together as a young team would mean more to a player at Arsenal than success at another club.
“A team sport is about achieving something together in a positive human atmosphere,” he said. “When you educate players it is to give them the taste of what football can give you in your life.
“Yes, it is a good living but it is not only that – you can get a good living anywhere. What you cannot get anywhere is the feeling of that human experience a team sport can give you.
“I know it is difficult to understand nowadays but the needs of human beings are exactly the same as 50 years ago. The experiences that you had when you were a child or in a team will remain with you for the rest of your life. When players have grown as a team together it is something special.”
Adebayor believes trophies are the only way to prove the club is as big as the likes of Manchester United – and that is why he stayed at the Emirates Stadium.
Adebayor looked set to leave the Gunners last summer but signed a new contract with the hope of more huge games like tonight’s clash.
After falling at this stage last season, Adebayor is desperate to hold onto the slender away-goals advantage they have against the Spaniards.
The Togo striker said: “The pressure is there. That is normal. I can understand that.
“If you want to be a big club, of course you have to win things, which is normal.
“If most of the people say Manchester United are a big club in Europe, it is because they won the Premier League and the Champions League. They are the reasons they are big.
“We are ready for that. We did everything last season to achieve things and for me is a little bit of luck in the quarter-finals of the Champions League against Liverpool last season that knocked us out.
“This season we have the chance to do it and just have to take our chances.”