Belfast Telegraph

Arsenal boss Wenger hails fighting qualities of Sanchez

By Jim van Wijk

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger insists the fighting instincts shared by Alexis Sanchez and Luis Suarez were honed on the streets of South America.

Wenger admires the energy and devilry of Chile international Sanchez, the Gunners' £35million summer signing from Barcelona, and Uruguay striker Suarez.

The Frenchman believes the dominance of Latin American forwards in European football is a result of the determination needed to succeed in their homelands, while developed countries have become "softer".

"Look across Europe and where are the strikers from? Many of them, at least 80 per cent, are from South America," Wenger said.

"Maybe it's because in Europe street football has gone. In street football when you're 10 years old, you want to play with 15-year-olds.

"Then you have to prove you're good, you have to fight and win impossible balls.

"Not every South American has that, but if you go back 30 or 40 years in England, life was tougher.

"We're much more protective than we were 20 or 30 years ago. We have all become a bit softer."

Sanchez has scored eight goals in 15 appearances since joining Arsenal and Wenger has been impressed with his rapid transition to the Barclays Premier League.

"It's because he has a particular mental strength," Wenger said. Every day he wants the ball. He doesn't walk out, he runs out.

"He has a natural level of energy that is unbelievable."

When asked if Sanchez and Suarez were alike, Wenger replied: "Exactly. When Suarez gives the ball to an opponent, he wins it back straight away. Sanchez is the same."

Premier League: Arsenal v Burnley, Emirates Stadium, Today, 3pm

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