Arsene Wenger has compared his star forward Alexis Sanchez to former Liverpool hero Luis Saurez, highlighting how much harder South Americans have to work from a younger age to be noticed in football and earn themselves their dream career.
Wenger noted the difference between the success of the South American players compared to those from other countries, stating that it seems that in Europe the approach is more relaxed when training the youngsters. This perhaps explains why there are far more successful South American players practising their trade around Europe than there are other nationalities.
‘Look across Europe and where are the strikers from? Many of them, at least 80 per cent, are from South America,’ Wenger said. ‘Maybe it’s because in Europe, street football has gone. In street football when you’re 10-years-old, you want to play with 15-year-olds. Then you have to prove you’re good, you have to fight and win impossible balls.’
‘When it’s all a bit more formalised, it’s less about developing your individual skill and fighting attitude. We’ve lost that a bit. Not every South American has that, but if you go back 30 or 40 years in England, life was tougher.’
‘Society has changed. We’re much more protective than we were 20 or 30 years ago. We have all become a bit softer.’
The really talented players that are cut from the same sort of cloth as other big names such as Lionel Messi, for example, come from a street football background where they have to fight hard and compete with other kids who are usually older than them. The beautiful game is massive over there, even more so than it is over in England, hitting almost fever pitch in some parts of Latin America.
Wenger was asked in a recent interview if he thought Sanchez and Suarez are alike and he said: ‘Exactly. When Suarez gives the ball to an opponent, he wins it back straight away.
‘Sanchez is the same; there is no time between the offence and defence. The transition is very quick. And they are very quick as well.’
Arsenal are at a point this season where they could do with some of the magic that Suarez gave Liverpool during his time at Anfield – he was the catalyst behind every great performance of last season when they came perilously close to winning the title.
Suarez showed the world of football why his previous roots had helped him become such a good player, his skill was mesmerizing, his ability unmatched. He can pick out any pass he wants, read the game, take on opponents and score all sorts of goals. All those things are honed and perfected from his street football days as a youth, quite similarly to Arsenal’s South American star Alexis Sanchez who looks like he could be every bit as good as Suarez.
Suarez has already bagged eight goals in his first fifteen appearances since joining the Gunners, and his manager has been impressed with how easily the striker has adapted to life in the Premier League.
Wenger will be hoping that the background of his super star comes from will help him become Arsenal’s Luis Saurez, and go a long way towards helping his side win the title and some more cups to add to last season’s silverware.