Wenger didn’t think English players were the ‘right fit’ claims former Gunner

David Bentley claims he left Arsenal because he felt like English players ‘weren’t the right fit’, and not because of money like he had been accused.

The former forward left the club after nine years, picking up just the one Premier League appearance before leaving to join Blackburn Rovers.

The winger ended up leaving Rovers to return to North London two years later to join rivals Tottenham Hotspur, but his career went on a downward spiral from there, and he eventually retired early from the game at the age of 29.

Bentley has now claimed that he left Arsenal initially because he felt like Arsene Wenger didn’t believe that English players were right at the time, before later changing his mind with the likes of Jack Wilshere blood into the side.

“He did, he did [value those things, youth players],” Bentley told The Athletic. “But at that time, English players weren’t playing that much and I think mentally, he thought they weren’t the right fit.

“But in the years after I left, the philosophy changed and that team with so many great players in front of me was dismantled. When I left, the young lads came in. So yeah, it was just timing, even though there was a backlash when I left.

“There was one article that said I left for money and I didn’t get on with the Arsenal fans. I was like, ‘I haven’t left because I don’t like you’. It was strange. I didn’t want to go but I had to for my career.

“And I’ve spoken to Wenger since. When I played for England against France, he was really nice and complimentary. I always got on with him and he was a brilliant coach.

“But at that time, I was looking around and saying to myself, ‘You have to fight’, so I went to Blackburn and fought my way in.”

Did Wenger struggle to see eye-to-eye with English players in his earlier years? Was the concentration of French players an issue for some at the club?


Tags Arsene Wenger David Bentley


  1. jon fox says:

    All my insticts scream out to me to dismiss this players “thoughts” as the impaired reasoning of a none too bright and too self regarding player. His career disappeared down a hole and way before its due time. Ask yourself why that was, Is my advice and don’t buy into this paranoia like nonsense from Bentley. ” Clearly not MY fault so IT MUST BE THE PREJUDICED MANAGER”.What obvious rubbish!

  2. SueP says:

    I thought it had something to do with the fact that buying British was much more expensive

    In any case, AW would have followed the French league, wouldn’t he? Petit, Vieira & Pires to name but 3 were totally awesome and were not on my limited radar. Henri was, and AW turned him into an Arsenal legend.

    If you are right in saying that Bentley spent 9 years at Arsenal, he largely passed me by.

  3. Sue says:

    Well, I bet that made his 40 yard wonderstrike against us all the more sweeter then!!

  4. ken1945 says:

    Another Bedtner I would suggest.

    From the way his promising career spiralled downwards after he left us, one can only assume the other two clubs mentioned had similar concerns regarding English players – I just hope that you are happy today David.

    1. RSH says:

      he’s not wrong though. Even City have been able to include Englishmen with actual talent. Wenger had the British Core, where only Ramsey actually lived up to any sort of expectation with us.

      1. ken1945 says:

        But even city had English players who didn’t live up to expectations according to Pep, for instance:
        Joe Hart – Jadon Sancho – Angus Gunn – Fabian Delph -Wright Phillips…. that is certainly a British core with talent that city, under Pep, let go…and how much is Jadon Sancho worth today?

        Sometimes we overestimate other clubs, while underestimating our own – not saying we haven’t made mistakes of course.

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