Cape Town - Arsene
Wenger has revealed his admiration for Southampton ahead of their
meeting in the quarter-finals of the English Football League Cup.
The Gunners boss talked up their youth academy and scouting successes
in recent seasons, and had no problem in recommending the club to
current boss Claude Puel.
The new Saints manager played under Wenger at Marseille before taking
his first steps into coaching under the long-serving Premier League
boss, and has now made a positive start to his Southampton career.
A spot in the semi-finals of the EFL Cup awaits the winner of
Wednesday's night clash at the Emirates, with Wenger admitting that
while has a good relationship with Puel, they haven't spoken ahead of
He said: "We talk, of course, but not before the game. I followed his
career and was always ready to talk when he needed me, but he's now
older than 50, has experience in this job and I think he has done very
well at Southampton so far.
"I spoke with him before he joined Southampton. After he signed, we became competitors and it's different."
Wenger added: "Before he signed, I gave him my impression of the
Southampton team and the quality of their players. I always felt that
they've had a very strong side of very good quality.
"You see the likes of [Jose] Fonte and Cedric [Soares] are European
champions now with Portugal, so Southampton have done extremely well
with their scouting.
"They have certainly been the most prolific producers of top talent
in England in the last 15 years. They have not only produced talent, but
Wenger is well aware of the talent that Southampton has produced, having signed a number of their young stars.
"We have some examples at our club with [Theo] Walcott, [Alex]
Oxlade-Chamberlain and [Calum] Chambers, but don't forget they've also
produced top quality players like Gareth Bale, Adam Lallana and of
"They do not only produce quality players, they scout very well as well because they scouted players like Sadio Mane.
"I'm not at all surprised that Puel and Southampton are doing well. He did a good job at Nice over the last four years.
"He built a good squad at Nice and did some very good work with the
youth-team players. You can see Nice are continuing to show that this
season in France."