Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal are ready to come of age in the Champions League this season.
Arsenal have gone out at the last 16 stage of the competition for the past six seasons and this could be Wenger’s final crack at European success as he is in the final year of his contract.
But Wenger admitted he has very deliberately built an older squad with more established signings in the hope they can give some experience to his younger players.
Swiss captain Granit Xhaka, World Cup winner Shkodran Mustafi and 28-year-old Lucas Perez all arrived this summer and Arsenal face their toughest Group A fixture in Paris on Tuesday night.
Wenger said: “I was used to playing with my younger squads when you build a stadium because you don’t have the resources. Now I have a team with more experienced players.
“The squad is between 24 and 30, basically. That’s where you have a good combination of physical strength and experience. But we want to keep giving chances to young players and get the mixture right.
“I would say it’s the most mature squad I’ve had for a long time, because they are men. Certainly I haven’t had a squad of players [like this] for a long time, who have enough experience to compete.
“But I don’t think like that [could be his final chance]. I think I played over 170 games in the Champions League and it’s every time the same: you want to do well in the next one. My personal case is not at stake in that at all.”
Wenger also shrugged off questions about his strong links with PSG (partly through his friendship with the owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi), the French newspaper L’Equipe even claiming he turned them down in 2011, 2012 and 2014.
When asked why he has always stayed loyal, Wenger said: “Because I love where I am. I know well the owners, but I feel always I remained loyal to Arsenal Football Club because I think it’s a club that has the qualities I love. And, that’s why.”
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