Wenger: Revamp of youth set-up is better for young footballers

The Gunners boss has hailed the introduction of the Under-21 League and the club's first year in the NextGen Series, which he says will help to create an elite group of players

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says that the revamp of youth football in England will help to develop better players.

The introduction of an Under-21 league and the ongoing NextGen Series – which the north London side will take part in for the first time this season - has seen an increase in popularity in youth football, with some of Europe's top teams being represented.

And Wenger says the changes to the structure of youth football are an exciting development, that takes some of the pressure off the young players.

"The Under-21 League has replaced the Reserve League, which was already a disguised under-21 league because you can play three players over 21," he told the club's official website. "That's what was already happening before so I don't think there's a lot of change in there.

"But we will anyway play in the Under-21 League with 18 and 17-year-old players and you could see that the other night [when Arsenal beat Bolton 3-1]. You had players like Serge Gnaabry, like Kristoffer Olsson, who are 17-years-old.

"It is a good competition for them because sometimes to see them at the Emirates in a different environment highlights a little bit the importance of the game. Overall there is not a big change but the structure is a little bit different.

"What has changed is that the whole country is better structured, competition-wise. We are in the NextGen competition as well which is a bit like the Champions League of the youth teams. That is interesting as well."

Arsenal kick-off its NextGen campaign next week against Marseille at Barnet's Underhill Stadium.

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