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Arsenal manager lauds African players

RED DUO: Arsene Wenger with Gedion Zelalem (right)

ARSENAL BOSS Arsène Wenger had special praise for the African players he’s worked with as he looked back on 20 years in charge at Arsenal - and even longer as a manager.

Wenger transformed Kolo Toure from an unknown into a world-class defender, and re-ignited Kanu’s career when he signed the Nigerian in 1999.

The legendary French manager told arsenal.com: “African players had a massive impact on my career because I always managed them right from the moment I started in the top league in France.”

“I had African players at Monaco and I like the fact that they were creative and they are usually attacking players with imagination. They have pace and power as well, and they usually combine strength and agility well. That’s very difficult to find.

“Africans are hugely passionate people and there is a big passion in Africa for the game. They are happy on the football pitch and that’s something which has been fantastic for us.

“Kanu had a massive impact here, Kolo Toure too, I had George Weah too… so all these players had a massive impact.”

In Wenger's current squad, Wenger has continued to unearth African diamonds. Nigeria’s Alex Iwobi, 20, is earning rave reviews while Chuba Akpom, who also has Nigerian heritage, is also expected to make an impression at Emirates Stadium.

Last year Wenger bought Egypt international Mohamed Elneny, 24, from Basle for somewhere between £5 million and £7.4 million. The defensive midfielder has been a revelation since he arrived in north London.

Another gem within the Gunners’ ranks is midfield playmaker protégé Gedion Zelalem from Ethiopia.

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