Exclusive: Sagna says Wenger has made a huge footprint in football

French international right back Bacary Sagna has praised his former boss Arsene Wenger following the recent announcement that the legendary manager will be leaving Arsenal at the end of the season.

Sagna, who scored a 90th minute diving header to rescue a point for ten-man Benevento in a thrilling 3-3 draw against Udinese yesterday, said about his former coach: “Playing under Arsene Wenger was a privilege for me.

“It is never easy to make the first steps abroad when you are a foreign player, but he made me feel at home straight away when I arrived at Arsenal and that is something I will always remember.”

It is clear that Sagna feels Wenger has a huge influence on Arsenal and that his 22 years at the club has had a major impact on the development of the club in various areas.

“Arsenal will be a different place without him, as he has been such a massive influence there. It is impossible to ignore the effect he has had across almost every facet of the club.

“He has been a great innovator with his ideas and the way he thinks about the game. The changes and methods he introduced at Arsenal can now be seen at other clubs in England and also overseas.

“I think his footprints will be seen for a long time to come right across world football.”

Wenger is renowned for developing players in an era when there is often a demand for ready-made stars and Sagna recalls a valuable lesson he learned from his former boss during their time together at the Emirates Stadium.

“The most important thing I learned from him was about space and how to use it on the pitch. He drilled it into me about finding space and to always keep moving around, never to be stuck in and around other players.

“He told me that if I did that, the game would become much more simple. It was an invaluable lesson.”

When asked which of his former team-mates benefited the most from Wenger’s wealth of knowledge and ability to develop young players, Sagna plumped for one of his former captains.

“I think Cesc Fabregas was the player who perhaps benefited most under his tutelage. Cesc was naturally gifted at a young age and was obviously still very raw but the coach saw something big in him and was never scared to play him.

“He gave Cesc the confidence to play his natural game without being afraid to make mistakes. It is what every player wants from his manager.”

We revealed last week that Wenger has turned down a big-money move from Paris Saint-Germain to become their next manager and while it remains to be seen what the Frenchman does next, Sagna hopes that he stays within football in years to come.

“As for his next move, who knows but whatever it is, he has more than earned the right to do as he now wishes. I read that he has hinted at continuing in the game so let’s hope there is another chapter still to be written for him.

“One thing is for sure, whoever gets the benefit of Arsene Wenger’s knowledge and experience will be very lucky.”