Arsene Wenger believes the key to winning the Premier League title is to have the core of his Arsenal squad aged between 23 and 30.
Wenger has been known for putting his faith in youth rather than signing experienced players and he now seems to concede that is not the way to win the league.
Wenger said: ‘To be a real football player, you need to be 23 years old because before you have learned your job, you can have a great game and after, sometimes an average game.
‘You can have one or two exceptional talents, like at the moment we have Hector Bellerin and Alex Iwobi, but the core of the team has to be from 23 to 30.
‘If you look at the national teams, you never win a tournament with a young team, because it’s more mental at some stage to win something big.
‘You need to have a certain level of experience.’
The comments are similar to those by Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen back in 1995 when he was critical of Manchester United for fielding too many youngsters – including David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and the Nevilles – in their opening day defeat by Aston Villa.
Hansen said: ‘The trick is always buy when you’re strong so he needs to buy players. You can’t win anything with kids. You look at that line-up Manchester United had today and Aston Villa at quarter-past two when they get the team sheet, it’s just going to give them a lift and it will happen every time he plays the kids. He’s got to buy players, as simple as that.’
Manchester United went on to win the Premier League and FA Cup Double at the end of the 1995-96 season and as well as their talented crop of youngsters, United had plenty of senior players around them including the likes of Peter Schmeichel, Steve Bruce, Roy Keane and Eric Cantona.
And Wenger will hope that his senior players will be able to have the same impact on the younger players coming through at Arsenal.
The Gunners face Swansea in the Premier League at the Emirates on Saturday.
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