Describing its increase in prominence as “obvious” to anyone with true footballing knowledge, Arsene Wenger today revealed exactly how he spotted the growing importance of the Europa League many years ago.
Speaking just days ahead of his side’s second match of the season in the competition, the Arsenal manager admitted that he spotted long before anyone else that the influence of the tournament was on the rise.
“I knew the Europe League would surpass the Champions League years ago. Many people assume the Champions League is the greatest European tournament, purely because the highest-placed teams qualify for it. But in truth, I realised a long time ago that it was waning – its influence diminishing – and that the future of European football was in the Europa League,” said the Frenchman today, adding that a number of factors – including the greater variety of country’s represented – illustrated the competition’s value.
“The Champions League is interesting if you’re into that sort of thing. But for me, a man of culture, I feel that seeing more of this continent – which the Europa League allows – is the sign of a tournament of the highest order. On top of this, there are more teams taking part, making it an infinitely more difficult and satisfying competition to win. If anything, I actually feel sorry for Champions League teams.”
Wenger later went on to say that he also realised long ago that finishing outside of the Premier League’s top spot – rather than winning the competition – was the true sign of a great team.