Even before Arsene Wenger officially took charge of Arsenal, he had instructed the club to recruit a floundering midfielder at AC Milan who he knew could transition into a box-to-boxing beast in England's Premier League. Patrick Vieira was brought in and it was not long before the make-up of a traditionally British side contained a number of foreign talents, particularly French.
The press and opposition fans saw Vieira, Nicolas Anelka, Remi Garde, Emmanuel Petit, Giles Grimandi, Kaba Diawara and Thierry Henry all acquired prior to the turn of the millennium and associated their recruitment with Wenger's own nationality.
In hindsight, such a link was always tenuous and founded upon naive assumption. Wenger's seemingly preference with French footballers was not down to some jingoistic duty but because that was where the talent was at the time, an observation vindicated by France's success at the 1998 FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championship two years later.
Prior to Spain's triumph at the Euros in 2008 and 2012, together with their World Cup win in 2010, Arsenal had Cesc Fabregas on their roster and also employed Jose Antonio Reyes, Fran Merida and Manuel Almunia before eventually adding Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla.
While it is only really Fabregas who has had any influence on Spain's competition qualifiers and tournament finals outcome, if there is one motif that has become synonymous with Wenger's time in Islington, it is the scouting of players within nations who are strongest internationally.
That trend continues to this day.
With a semi-final appearance at Euro 2012 behind them, a victory over France this year, an unblemished record in World Cup qualification albeit for one sole draw, and a virtual who's who of modern elite-level football, Germany are, in Wenger's own words, the new Spain.
It is little wonder why there are five players in the senior squad at Ashburton Grove with Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski, Serge Gnabry, Gedion Zelalem and Mesut Ozil representing the German contingent.
'At the moment Germany produces top-quality players,' Wenger is quoted to have said by the club's official website.
'Look at their national team, it’s a bit like Spain was two or three years ago. Suddenly they have [Mario] Gotze, [Julian] Draxler, [Bastian] Schweinsteiger, [Toni] Kroos, Ozil, Podolski. They have two or three players in every position.
'That’s why you go more for German players, because of the quality. Having said that, it’s also a nationality that tends to adapt well. They are a bit like the northern countries in the way they settle. There is less risk there, especially once a player has already moved from his country - like Ozil did to Spain - the risk is minimal because they know what to expect.'
Considering Wenger's recent comments in the media, about how he values Arsenal's traditions of utilising their academy products and nurturing them into first-team players, he was also careful to note that he is not averse to spending in the upcoming window.
Do you think the most talented players are typically now German? Or from the Bundesliga? Or is La Liga still king? Let us know in the comment section below…
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