Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed what has allowed Kieran Gibbs to develop into one of the best left-backs in the country.
The Frenchman is backing his defender to become first choice in his position for the England national side and says his development was enabled when a key player left Arsenal.
“All the talent is there for everybody to see. For a long time, when Ashley Cole was there, there was no discussion. Now it’s a bit more open,” said Wenger.
“He’s (Gibbs) such a great potential that now if he just lets it go... because he can dribble as well, because when he arrived at the club he was 16 and he was a winger, midfielder, and I saw that potential didn’t really come out.”
Gibbs lost his place in the Arsenal side this season to Nacho Monreal because of injury with the Spaniard stepping in and retaining the position until he himself got injured, which has allowed Gibbs back into the side.
Gibbs now faces two important games for the Gunners, which could determine how likely he is to get a start for England in the next international break.
It will be two very different scenarios because this evening against Galatasaray he should get plenty of space and the chance to get forward whereas against Chelsea this weekend, he could be on the back foot for most of the game.
“I think what doesn’t help is when you’re in and out. Because of his injuries. You need a consistent presence in the team. We sometimes forget that the first quality of a good football player is health.”
“I have talked to him (Gibbs) many times. We try always to show him confidence and, look, I let Gael Clichy go [to Manchester City] because he was a young English left-back. That’s the main reason I left Clichy go. I wanted to give him a chance.”
He’s proving that was the right decision by the boss but Wenger deserves a lot of credit for making Gibbs more defensively minded then the player who first turned out for the club.
The trick for Gibbs now is to try and win more silverware at the club, which will only increase his profile and raise his stock as an English defender.