By Tony Attwood
Reading some of the commentaries on web sites concerning all the players Arsenal absolutely must buy this summer, it looks to me as if a lot of commentators don’t want to see any players from our junior ranks being promoted this year.
Which is a bit of a shame, because I think this summer we are going to have the greatest collection of young talent that has ever come through the Arsenal ranks in one go.
We already know that the “Jack Wilshire” emergence for next season is going to be Aaron Ramsey, who would of course have made it this season had he not been Shawcrossed. But coming up as well is this list of 22 players.
Of course they won’t all make it – some because their talent isn’t quite enough for Arsenal, and some because they have passport issues. Some will still be too young, but they are worth including just to give us a real understanding of the astounding strength of the youth squad.
I’ve selected the ones that I think are particular talents – and maybe I have missed some out. But even if only three emerge, that is a hell of a payback from the youth system. These summaries are quick and simple, and selective. Please add your comments.
1. Afobe – striker, highly rated, on loan at Huddersfield, been with the club around 10 years.
2. Aneke – 18 years old, plays for England, the new Vieira
3. Bartley – Just read this and wonder: “Kyle’s first goal for Rangers gave his loan side a 1-0 win over St Mirren on Sunday. The young defender headed the only goal of the game after 24 minutes when he finished well from Madjid Bougherra’s cross.” Yes that is Rangers in the SPL.
4. Bothelo – passport issues so played for UD Salamanca, Celta Vigo and now Cartagena. 21-year-old, left back and left wing.
5. Coquelin – looked really interesting before going off to Lorient for the season. Could the reported difficulties with Clichy’s contract be due to the fact that Gibbs is being lined up as the regular with Coquelin as his deputy?
6. Cruise. England Youth International extended his loan with League One side Carlisle United until January 8, 2011. Now back at Arsenal (I think). Played against Olympiacos in Champs League in 2009.
7. Eastmond – Played in the Youth Cup-winning side of 2009, then played in midfield in the Song role in the in Carling Cup, followed by league matches.
8. Ebecilio – Dutch central midfielder recently signed pro contract.
9. Freeman – striker, played for Yeovil, signed contract extension, now back with Arsenal.
10. Frimpong – out all season just when it looked like he could step up as a deputy to Song. After that injury, who knows, but let’s hope.
11. Galindo – midfield, made his first senior appearance for Bolivia in a friendly against Mexico in February, 2010 at the age of 17. 2010/11 season on loan at Spanish Second Division side UD Salamanca.
12. Gilles Sunu – forward now on loan at Lorient. Scored for France in the summer tournament final and then vanished for a while with an injury.
13. JET – playing with Cardiff. He looked so good, didn’t quite deliver, was unsure at Cardiff (reports of him trying to be too clever) but seems to be settling down now. “He can shoot, he can pass, he can tackle, he can head, he’s strong and he’s got a good engine. But where on earth will Jay play?” (AFC web site).
14. Lansbury – brilliant midfielder, playing with Norwich.
15. Mannone – “done great” when he was pushed into the first team, went to the end of the world (Hull) and then got injured just like all our keepers this year. Is he on the way out, or just getting experience? Interestingly I had an off the record discussion with a fellow high up in the world of football, who cited Arsenal’s four keepers at the start of the season as ludicrous. “They could all be playing,” he said, “but three of them are just sitting it out each week. Where’s the logic in that?” Well, now we know. Four keepers is not enough.
16. Miquel – I was very impressed with his performances in the Cup. Not quite there as a regular, but he really is close, in my view. And we need centre backs.
17. Murphy – striker with superb potential – but not for next year. Expects to be on loan gain next season.
18. Ryo Miyaichi – the whole of the Netherlands is agog over the young Japanese player. He doesn’t have the right passport, so presumably he won’t be back next season – but I am told that getting a Dutch passport is not so hard as a UK passport, so maybe in another year.
19. Traore – playing well for Juve, after having an injury at the start of the season. His staying might depend on the Clichy situation.
20. Watt – went straight from the youth team at Arsenal into the Leeds United first team. Played against us in the cup. So what do we say: Arsenal youth is just a step behind the Championship?
21. Vela – got the shirt, scored the goals early on, and then… But on loan he seems to be getting himself back together, and there was such high hope for him. Was it a blip or the end of the line? We can’t know until next season. He’s over age and not local, so he will be taking up one of the valuable places in the 25 next season if he stays.
22. Wellington – failed to get the passport, so won’t be back this coming season, which is a big frustration for such a talent. We just have to wait.
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