Wenger sceptical of Olympic football

By Simon Peach, Press Association Sport

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted football at the Olympic Games is viewed by many within the professional game as little more than an “obstacle”.

A Great Britain side is set to compete at London 2012, although the Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh national associations have made their opposition clear.

Wenger believes a British team would fare well next year, however it could mean the Frenchman losing players during pre-season.

“They will do well, because it is at home and the focus will be there usually,” Wenger said of a Great Britain side.

“In the professional game we see the Olympics football as an obstacle rather than as a motivation.

“I think the Olympic Games is not about football, it is about track and field.

“Football for me never looked to be a highlight of the Olympic Games.”

Olympic squads predominantly use players under the age of 23, meaning the likes of Arsenal trio Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs are likely to play a part in the British side.

Wales international Aaron Ramsey is another that could potentially feature. The Olympic football tournament is expected to finish before the Premier League season begins, but Wenger knows past tournaments have caused clubs trouble.

“Usually they are at the start of the season, so it is a big problem for the professional football clubs,” he said.

“I am happy for him (Ramsey) to play for us – that is basically the target of our career.”

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