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Wenger Is Pleased For Hero Mannone

If you love someone then set them free, croons Arsene Wenger towards the north east.

Laurence Griffiths

Vito Mannone's former-manager Arsene Wenger has paid tribute to the Italian following his epic League Cup heroics.

The Sunderland stopper has excelled since coming into the side in November and has firmly established himself as a lovable character as well as a top goalkeeper. Wenger, who never really gave him an opportunity at the first team in North London, couldn't be happier for him.

He said:

I'm very happy because it reminded me of when I saw him and that I kept him here when he was 16 years of age and [gave him] a trial with the first team.

I saw at that time that there was something special in him and it's coming out now.

I'm very pleased for him because he was always behind the No 1 keeper here but he always wanted to play and it's great to see him develop as he does at the moment.

To be honest, the world of the European super-clubs is one that we may never really understand. We see a bloody good goalkeeper here who they appear crazy to have let go, but I suppose to Arsenal he was just one of many prospects upon whom the club's expectations placed a glass ceiling in terms of development.

Nice to see Mannone get a bit of the spotlight and some recognition, though. He has been a simply brilliant signing.