‘Nobody Has Found Him’ – Arsene Wenger Responds To ‘New Vieira’ Narrative

By The Editor
on 19th November 2018

Arsene Wenger refuses to accept that he needed a Vieira replacement…


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Arsene Wenger recently sat down with beIN SPORTS’s Andy Gray and Richard Keys as he reflected on his career despite insisting that he’s not done in terms  of management.

While he didn’t go into specifics, Wenger was asked about one of the most popular questions he faced during his Gunners career: his refusal to buy a powerful midfielder in the mould of Patrick Vieira.

After moving to the Emirates Stadium in 2006, we saw the Invincible squad form a mass exodus over the next few years, with Kolo Toure the last one to leave in 2009.

It was claimed at the time that financial restrictions led to those decisions and while that was one side of the argument, their replacements seemed to resemble a certain profile.

Wenger went for small, diminutive players all over the park leading to us having one of the shortest teams in the league, and often being physically ousted of Premier League games.

So why didn’t Wenger ever try to find a replacement for Vieira in the middle of the park?

“It was not a conscious decision [to buy smaller players],” Wenger said.

“Unfortunately, to find a [Patrick] Vieira who can play football like a small player… since I’ve been in England everybody has said ‘I’ve found the new Vieira’ but 20 years have passed and nobody’s found him.

“And [Emmanuel] Petit was the same. But it was a little coincidence that we got [Cesc] Fabregas. He was not tall but he was still a great football player.

“And after that came a problem when they built the stadium, we had to sell our best players.”

The emergence of Cesc Fabregas certainly played a part in Wenger’s thinking, but his obsession for smaller players didn’t necessarily stop there.

When Gilberto was entering the final years of his tenure, we brought in Denilson. The only similarity between those two players was their nationality. Gilberto was a 6ft tall, warrior, Denilson was a deep-lying playmaker who was shorter than Fabregas.

Again, when Henry left for Barcelona, he was replaced by the ‘Crozilian’ Eduardo. A lethal finisher, but another player shy of 6ft.

Finances may have been tight, but there isn’t a premium on taller players in football. This was a conscious decision by Wenger, he just refused to change it.