Arsenal manager Wenger: China can be a footballing force

Ahead of his side's pre-season tour to Asia, the Gunners boss claims that China can become a major force in the sport if the hunger, passion and education is right
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes the future looks bright for China, and that they have all the tools to become a major force in football.

The Frenchman's comments come prior to Arsenal's pre-season tour of Asia, where his side will take in matches in Hong Kong, Malaysia and China.

Wenger drew comparisons of China to Japan, a country he managed in prior to his role in north London.

"The China league is a bit like the Japan league, where I was in 1994," Wenger said on his club's official website. "That was the third year of professional football in Japan and it is similar in China, but it is not enough.

"To make a sport popular you need the elite and you need a strong basis of the number of people who practice the game."

The Arsenal chief points to China's growing role both politically and economically on the international stage as a major reason for why he thinks the sport will grow.

"Usually, sport follows the economic power, and the economic power is moving at the moment from Europe to China and Brazil," he added.

"These countries, if they have the desire, they will have the players. The history is in Europe - but how long can we resist the power of China if they really want to develop football? The future will tell.

"We have an organisation that starts at a very young age, with the same ingredients in our coaching lessons. They are all based on intelligence of movement and, of course, passion and motivation.

"To make a career at the top level you need a fantastic motivation. Maybe only two per cent of the population has the required motivation to make a massive career. You can love football without being ready to give everything for it.

"But if you want to be a great football player it has to mean everything for you. This kind of motivation comes naturally if you have a good basis of education in football."