A little while back I wrote about the problems Arsenal have fitting all the current players and players on loan into the “25” list that is allowed.
Of course that will be worked out later, but it is worth considering who is knocking on the door in terms of youth players who might follow Hector Bellerin and break through.
The list I came up with of players who were too young to count in the “25” but who were either in the first team already or knocking on the door of the first team was…
- Akpom, Chuba
- Bellerin, Hector
- Chambers, Calum
- Crowley, Daniel
- Gnabry, Serge David
- Hayden, Isaac Scot
- Maitland-Niles, Ainsley
- Ormonde-Ottewill, Brandon
- Toral, Jon-Miquel
- Zelalem, Gedion
Some we already know well, but I think a word might be said about Jon Toral who has been on loan at Brentford of the Championship this season. He has played 34 times for the club – although often from the bench, and has scored six.
His contract at Arsenal has now been extended for another year.
Jon is a friend of Hector Bellerin, and both left the Barcelona academy together but this season their paths parted, with Hector making his breakthrough into the first team and Jon, as I say, going to Brentford.
And it has not been too bad a season as the league table shows ahead of the final weekend with Brentford just missing out of a play off place – despite upheavels in terms of talk about the future of the club.
What makes this personally promising is that Jon has finally recovered from his knee problems that resulted in him having four operations between the age of 16 and 18.
With the Barcelona Under-16 team Jon won the global Nike Cup at Old Trafford in August 2010. Barcelona offered him a contract for the Under-18s but Bellerin and Toral decided there was more to life than Barcelona.
Barcelona president Sandro Rosell, he of the imaginary tax regiemes and total denial that Barcelona have ever done anything wrong regarding their academy, condemned Arsenal’s approach (forgetting that Jon’s mother is from Doncaster). Pesky things these details (although of course as an EU citizen over 16 years old Jon can work anywhere he likes within the Union.)
Arsenal paid Barcelona £300,000 for Jon even though he was still having problems with his knee, in February 2012.
Now with the operations done and a full season in the Championship Toral seems completely fit. He scored a great goal against Bolton, and has fitted in well, learning the trade as they say. Before the new contract was agreed he said in an interview ”
“I keep in touch with Dick Law and Steve Rowley. They call me, asking how everything is going. I am finishing a contract this season and Arsenal have a preferential option. I work hard every day here at Brentford but my goal is that Arsenal give me a new contract for next season. I am working for it.”
Jon began his career at Arsenal playing for the reserves on 30 November 2011, and played in the 2012/13 Next Gen European series. He played 20 times for the reserves in the next season and scored six, and played in pre-season games against Boreham Wood and New York Red Bulls in 2014 before joining Brentford on 15 August 2014 making his first appearance in a league cup game on 26 August.