Arsene Wenger has compared himself to Cruyff. “I totally agree with Cruyff — and I won’t change.” He said. “I could have left 10 times to join another club but I didn’t because I have worked with the same vision and philosophy at Arsenal for the last 16 years — and that won’t change. And, in a similar way, people like Cruyff don’t put all their energy in building football teams with young players just for the money.”
Well, let’s talk Cruyff. He has laid foundations to the greatest team ever, which is based on homegrown stars. However, Cruyff won Barcelona’s first European Champions’ Trophy with Romario, Hristo Stoichkov and Ronald Koeman. He also bought players such as Michael Laudrup and Gheorghe Hagi. All proven superstars he insisted on buying.
Yes, Cruyff always supported growing your own stars but he also warned of the dangers of relying too heavily on unproven talent and he has always supported buying big stars, “special talents”.
Cruyff said: “I’ve always been a fan of the youth system. And later if you can add a special player like an Eto’o, Ronaldinho or Ibrahimovic, you have to buy.”
Cruyff knows something about buying big because even when he was a player, his great home-grown Ajax didn’t really took off until Yugoslav Velibor Vasović came on board. Yes, growing your own and playing stylish “memorable” football is part of Curyff’s philosophy, much like these elements are in Wenger’s philosophy. However, Cruyff’s philosophy is also about winning and that’s where the big stars come in.
Wenger has never really bought an Eto’o or a Ronaldinho or a Vasović. He didn’t even buy a Bergkamp.
These are players who are essential for football success. Wenger’s insistence not to buy a real big name might be admirable, but eventually it is undermining his great philosophy.