By Tony Attwood
It is well known that Chelsea have had the largest number of loanees out and about in Europe, and a big youth squad. Arsenal have been languishing with their under 21s in division 2, gaining promotion at the end of last season. Man City have built a new stadium just for the youth teams. Clearly Arsenal are slipping behind and so need to BUY BUY BUY players to catch up.
And yet… Arsenal came second in the league, and neither Man U nor Chelsea are in the Champions League. And Arsenal keep on bringing these youngsters through. Just when it looks like we have run out of players… up pops another one.
Of course these youngsters never count in the same way that big name £35,000,000 players count, so we’ve never seen Iwobi, Coquelin and Bellerin listed as big money transfers – at least until Barcelona were reported to be offering £40 million for Bellerin.
Mind you if we had bought Bellerin for £40m and then he’d had a couple of modest games at the start, as he did, the knives would have been out.
So here we are with the pundits suggesting Arsenal have bought one big name and one lesser known player, and that’s it.
But if you really want to know about the next Iwobi, Coquelin, Bellerin, or come to that Campbell, you need to check who has come up from the ranks. Because, given that the big name transfers have only a 25% chance of making a major impact in their first season (following all the stats we have looked at on this during the past year), there is a strong chance that one or two up and coming youngsters will be full time highly regarded first team players for Arsenal by early next year.
As of today we are in fact getting very much closer to seeing who is going to make it. Here are a few names to conjure with… for these are the players who are in these early days of training, working with the first team. OK, they don’t have big signs on their back saying that they are now first team players (although it is fairly certain for Reine Adelaide who is playing with the number 20 shirt on), but it is a step on the way. Put another way, those who are not here (like Wellington for example) may be on their way out.
So the players below are the ones who have turned out with the first teamers who are available. Not proof positive, but somewhere in this bunch is going to be one, or if we are lucky two, players who will be in the class of Coquelin, Iowbi and Bellerin.
The reviews come from Andrew’s previews of all the players from a few weeks back. There is an index to Andrew’s four complete articles below.
Just remember, one or two of these are likely to be as big as Bellerin, Coquelin, or Iwobi.
Matt Macey – Born 9/9/94 so just qualified as an U21 player last season (but won’t next year). Played 15 times and was an unused substitute once at the junior level. Was a regular member of the first team squad and warmed the bench whenever Cech or Ospina wasn’t available. He is a giant of a man (1.98m or 6ft 6in), noticeably taller than Cech in team photos. Had a solid season whilst not necessarily spectacular, three clean sheets and 16 goals conceded in his 15 games. His immediate future for next season will depend to a large degree on movements of players ahead of him in the queue for that elusive first team berth. He will probably be looking for a loan to get more experience.
Reiss Nelson – English. He will still qualify as an U18 player this coming season, 21 starts last year (10 U21, 1 Youth Cup, 4 UEFA Youth League and 6 U21). Scored 7 goals and was card free. Another young winger fighting for his U21 place.
Marcus McGuane – Irish, will still be age qualified at U18 level next year but will undoubtably be looking to establish himself as the main man in this position for the U21s, which he is quite capable of doing given the real progress he made last season.
Krystian Bielik had his own article on Untold when he signed, and here it is and below are Andrew’s comments.
Krystian Bielik – Polish, born 4 Jan 1998 so will still qualify as as U18 player next season. Came to us as a promising Defensive Midfielder but has played as a Centre Back in the vast majority of his 30 starts this season (he started in 4 Youth Cup, 5 UEFA Youth League and 21 U21 games). He is tall at 1.98m which probably explains us moving his position. He has retained his midfielder’s instincts and sometimes over-commits with driving runs forward. Krystian is probably the nearest of the three to the first team squad and with a good pre-season may well force himself into contention, the question is will it be at Centre Back or Holding Midfield?
Jeff Reine-Adelaide is now a definite member of the first team squad. team squad, and Andrew’s preview is below.
Jeff Reine-Adelaide – French. Jeff is a player with a lot of expectation on his shoulders. He signed at the beginning of last season and impressed in pre-season but probably failed to quite live up to fans over high expectations. He is much larger than many of our other youngsters and always looks immaculate when on the ball. I get the feeling that he is usually in third gear though and rarely contributing to his full potential. He had 19 starts last season scoring 5 goals and getting 2 yellow cards. None of his games were at U18 level and he will certainly be a full member of the U21 squad. If he shows that he is capable of playing to his full potential he will really become a player who it will be a pleasure to watch. Needs to work harder to get there though.
Gedion Zelalem – USA. Played only a single game before his loan to Glasgow Rangers where he impressed in spells. Still highly regarded but may well need to have another season on loan before a final decision is made on his long term future.
Serge Gnabry – Germany, will still qualify as an U21 player next season, made 6 starts at the end of the season following his return from West Brom scoring one goal and getting two yellow cards. Before his ill-fated loan spell was a full member of the first team squad but was nowhere near that level last season. Will need a good pre-season to re-establish himself into the first team squad where he faced a big challenge to regain either the AM or right wing slot.
Chuba Akpom (d.o.b. 9:10:95) Forward English He has made 34 appearances this year and has scored 3 goals and one assist, has been given 2 yellow cards. A rather disappointing season, he would have hoped to have done better. Will have to have a stellar pre-season to earn a place in the senior squad for next season, more likely another loan spell. Far too soon for us to give up on him.
Yaya Sanogo – on loan at Charlton and hasn’t exactly set the world on fire there. Unlikely to have a future at Arsenal. A probable departee.
The Complete Untold Preview of the Under 18, Under 19, and Under 21 squads.