The Arsenal manager has blamed foreign markets for lower league talents being snubbed by the Premier League, adding the Blackburn striker to the list of ‘forgotten’ stars
Arsene Wenger has expressed regret about striker Jordan Rhodes, describing the Scotland star as another “forgotten” player from the lower leagues which the Premier League failed to recognise.
The Arsenal manager added the Blackburn striker to the list of other “forgotten” stars including Southampton’s Rickie Lambert and Norwich’s Grant Holt, who both enhanced their reputations by helping their respective sides gain promotion to the top flight of English football.
Talking to reporters, Wenger said of Rhodes: “When you look at his record it is quite impressive.
“Let’s not forget that English football has also forgotten people like Rickie Lambert at Southampton, for example. You wonder today what kind of career this boy [Rhodes], would have had if he had gone to a big club at 18 or 19.
“Maybe the fact that we had the money to only buy foreign meant we forget a few people who could make it.
“You have Grant Holt at Norwich, like Lambert. People who, when they come up to the Premier League, have made it, have had an impact but nobody bought them.
“They just came up there in the Premier League with their club and showed that they had the level. Maybe there are a few missed as we do not pay too much attention to the lower league.”
Ahead of Arsenal’s FA Cup fifth round tie at home to Blackburn, Wenger also pin-pointed the threat to his side posed by Rhodes, who has been the bright spark of Rovers’ season so far.
The Frenchman continued: “Rhodes has scored 20 goals in 25 games so he must have something special and a big intelligence in the box.
“He has a big level of anticipation and he is a skilful finisher. You don’t see him too much outside the box in participation but when you look at his record it is impressive.
“He can prove yes but I hope not against us!
“They are still in contention for a play-off place and if you look at the names on the list, if they can get into the play-offs, they will be a major threat as they have a lot of experienced players.”