Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes Jamie Vardy will not start for England at the summer's European Championships – despite being braced to part with £20m to sign the Leicester City striker. The Frenchman expects Roy Hodgson to overlook the 29-year-old due to his lack of experience of top level football.
After the Gunners triggered Vardy's £20m release clause, the forward is currently stewing over a contract offer of £120,000-a-week [according to BBC Sport]. The former Fleetwood Town forward netted 24 Premier League goals last season, with Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane the only player to outscore him in the top flight, as helped fire the Foxes to the league title.
Vardy travelled with the England squad to their French training base in Chantilly on Monday (6 June) ahead of the first of their three group matches against Russia on 11 June in Marseille, but is yet to make a decision over whether to accept Arsenal's offer. Wenger has not commented directly on the deal but believes Hodgson may leave him on the bench at the start of the tournament.
"I don't think that he will be a starter," Wenger told beIN Sports, according to The Evening Standard. "I don't say this because he does not have the quality, but because he doesn't have enough experience at that level to say the whole tournament will depend on Vardy. Football progresses always — the offence creates a new problem, the defence responds.
"What has happened in the last ten years is that the strikers have become quicker and quicker. What's happened? The defence have responded by creating quicker and quicker defenders. So now to put strikers in who are slow you have a problem, so pace will be needed."
Debate has raged over the role Vardy may play during Euro 2016, with the Leicester man having occupied an ineffective wide position in the friendly wins over Turkey and Portugal – while captain Wayne Rooney has been preferred in a central position.
Hodgson's 23-man squad is the youngest nation at Euro 2016 - with an average age of 25 - and expectations over the team's prospects remain low as a result. Wenger believes however that only a handful of those young players will feature this summer – with the more experienced heads, which include Arsenal's Jack Wilshere, again asked to shoulder the responsibility.
"He will use two or three," the Arsenal boss added. "You cannot use six because in an international tournament, as we said before, it's about coping in the weak moments of your game. It's about not making a mistake at an important moment of the game and that's down to experience.
"You don't win a big tournament with players between 20 and 23. Impossible. That doesn't exist in the history of the big tournaments. You win with players between 25 and 30. He will integrate players like Harry Kane and Dele Alli in some games but he cannot put five or six in."