Wenger praises Saints academy

Gareth Bale.(Getty Images)
Gareth Bale.(Getty Images)

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 their encounter.

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 top talents."

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 course others.

"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."

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