Arsenal latest: Wenger hopeful over youngster Willock, praises US tour

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Arsenal are set to ramp up their pre-season preparations with a trip to the United States later this week, where the Gunners will take on MLS side New York Red Bulls - who of course have former Arsenal star Thierry Henry leading their attack. Manager Arsene Wenger says that with the sport growing in the States, it's the ideal time to take his side across the pond - and that he hopes he can play a part in it's development in America.

"It is the first time since I [started to] go to World Cups that I've been stopped by so many American people," Wenger said. "I can tell you something I'm completely convinced of - before people didn't know who you were, but now every American guy I met knows Arsenal, knows England and knows the Premier League.

"The enthusiasm about soccer in the States is new but big. I expect us to have a good crowd there. I hope that we can help to develop the interest in the game and that we can play a good match there to make people enjoy it," he added. "It is the perfect time to go. I always wanted to go with Arsenal to the United States, so I'm personally very happy to do it."

Some of those fans in America will know that Wenger has a reputation of developing young players, and some of the players in the current squad have been nurtured by Wenger, including left back Kieran Gibbs and midfielder Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey. The latest young star could be 16-year-old winger Chris Willock after the England Under 16 international impressed against Boreham Wood last weekend - and Wenger is hopeful that he can develop into an important player.

"He’s a very young boy and I wanted him to have a run out with the big boys to see how much he has to do," said Wenger. "But technically and tactically he integrated very well. Of course it’s natural that he lacks a bit of power at that age but when he gets that he will be a very interesting player."

In transfer news, the Gunners continue to be linked with new faces. Nice goalkeeper David Ospina looks set to join the club this week, but the latest name linked with the club is Manchester City defender Matija Nastasic. The 21-year-old has fallen out of favour under Manuel Pellegrini, and speculation today suggests that Arsenal could be set to make a move for the Serbian international, with a £16m bid rumoured for the potential Thomas Vermaelen replacement.

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