Nurturing young talent instead of splashing big bucks: that has always been Arsene Wenger’s preferred method of bringing success to Arsenal.
The Frenchman’s 15-year tenure has brought three Barclays English Premier League crowns to north London, along with four FA Cup triumphs and a UEFA Champions League final appearance.
And while expensive signings have peppered the Gunners’ squad throughout, so too have players whose talents have been honed by Wenger and his staff.
Cesc Fabregas, Jack Wilshere, Nicklas Bendtner, Johan Djourou and Kieran Gibbs have come through the much-fabled Gunners academy in recent years, as have numerous other quality players that punctuate Wenger’s squad and global football as a whole.
“What is fantastic in football is there is no given formula,” Wenger said recently. “I personally am a big fan of the way we do it, so I try to be successful with the way we do it.
“You can also do it the way Inter Milan do, or Manchester City do, they buy the best players in the world and it works as well. What I want to show is it works our way as well.”
And that it does.
Wenger is well known for his ability to get the best out of precocious young talents by exposing them to the best coaching techniques and first-team football, whether it is in the Carling Cup or during loan spells away from the club.
The technique has worked with aplomb for the aforementioned starlets, most recently with playmaker Wilshere.
The 18-year-old enjoyed a productive spell with Bolton last season that helped him become an Arsenal first-team regular this term, as well as a senior England international.
Wanderers could again be handed one of Arsenal’s brightest prospects in the form of forward Carlos Vela, who has been lined-up for a move to the Reebok Stadium.
The 21-year-old Mexican forward has seen his first-team chances with the Gunners limited this season, with the likes of Bendtner, Marouane Chamakh, Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott all ahead of him in the Gunners pecking order.
And rather than warming the bench, Wenger is keen for Vela to ply his talents elsewhere for the time being.
“I want Carlos to play at the top, top level and the club who gives me the biggest guarantee to play will have the chance to sign him,” said Wenger. “I would expect it to happen in January because he is keen to play.
“He has been patient and worked very hard – he has matured a lot and changed a lot in a positive way and is a fantastic boy who deserves to play.
“He is a fantastic talent and I do not want to lose him and I want him now to get experience.”
Another youngster set for a loan spell away is midfielder Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, who Wenger admits is one of many that could be farmed out during the January transfer window,
“Yes, I will loan out players,” he added. “Players like Jay Emmanuel-Thomas who need to mature to play, who don’t get in the team at the moment.
“If I can find them a club in the Premier League I will let him go to let him have an experience like Jack Wilshere last year.”
As well as the Premier League, young Arsenal players are littered across numerous clubs at all levels of the English football pyramid, as well as the Eredivisie, Ligue 1 and Serie A.
Despite the fact 14 players are already out on loan, the likes of holding midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong and Brazilian forward Wellington are likely to follow suit in the coming month, along with several others reserve and academy players.
Recent success stories like Wilshere and goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny – who spent the last campaign with League One outfit Brentford – has seemingly strengthened Wenger’s resolve to promote young talent.
Unlike almost every other elite British team, Arsenal is a club whose success relies almost solely on that of its young players.
While a trophy has evaded them since 2005, Wenger remains confident that his techniques will soon bring success to north London once again, especially when financial restrictions come into place from 2011/12.
And with such talented youngsters, who can blame him.