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August 2021

Who said we had only 3 arrivals this summer? Dejan Iliev makes it four.

by Milan Gjorchevski

Dejan Iliev has joined Arsenal. You are probably scratching your heads with the question in mind…Dejan Who?

Well, as proud Macedonian and Arsenal Supporter I’m very excited to see that this is the first Macedonian player in Arsenal’s history who will wear Arsenal’s shirt.

So who is Dejan Iliev? A goalkeeper. Born 25.02.1995, 195cm, 81 kg – played for FK Belasica (second-tier football club in Macedonia which produced Goran Pandev). He represented national team of Macedonia for U-15, U-17 and U-19 levels.

Since there is nothing on the official Arsenal site, I cannot send you more information in terms of contract or player’s profile. In the interview for the local TV station, he told reporter that he will join Academy and he is training with the Reserves and first-team sometimes.

He is delighted that he joined such a big club and had praised Arsene Wenger and the stuff at Arsenal, also praised staff in his former club for all the hard work that they put in him. There were also reports that Arsene told him that if he keeps progressing he will be first goalkeeper for Arsenal in couple of years, but you know how media works…

I really don’t like judging football players through Youtube videos, but that’s the only thing I can find online, just for you to see the boy. Here is the link:

And also picture with Arsene (I hope this is not Photoshop! πŸ™‚

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I wish him good luck at Arsenal and just keep the hard work!

Footnote by Tony

As this story broke two or three other sites have carried a couple of lines about Dejan Iliev – one in particular saying “Why Wenger Why?” or words to that effect.Β  Their point being that we need other players not another keeper.

There have also been people writing to this site complaining about Vito Mannone and asking (rhetorically) how we could be in such a state as a club that we have to put Mannone into the first team and have Damian Martinez on the bench against Liverpool.

Leaving aside the fact that I felt Mannone did well, it always surprises me when fans can’t grasp the fact that it is impossible to have top rated keepers permanently sitting as the third choice keeper.Β  They simply don’t get the games, and then just go to a club where they do get the games.

Great players don’t stay for long on the sidelines.

As far as I know, after the top three keepers (two of whom have been injured these past two weeks) we have James Shea, Reice Charles-Cook, Josh Vickers and Damian Martinez.Β  Damian Martinez is the name we all got to know last season after he sat on the bench for an Argentina first team game, following injuries to their squad.

So why one more?Β  Because, as Mr Wenger has said so often, it is very difficult if not impossible to predict how players will develop.Β  That’s why we collect players, and why, when an exceptional talent becomes available at a young age, Arsenal move for the player.

The player comes to Arsenal because the quality of the coaching for young players is exceptional.Β  Better the luxury of the surroundings and the excellence of the coaching at Arsenal, but with several players in front of you, than going straight to a 3rd division team, getting a game each week, but without a quality coach to help you improve.

Transfers like this one don’t make major headlines but they are part of the life blood of the club.




25 comments to Who said we had only 3 arrivals this summer? Dejan Iliev makes it four.

  • Candid gunner

    The picture’s been photoshopped and it’s so fake. However, I wish Dejan Iliev a great career at the Arsenal and wish the whole team well! Up the ARSENAL

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Nice introduction ,Milan and thaks for the video clip .Looks like a good prospect – some nice saves and a good throwing arm .Do hope he makes it.
    I just suprised that Walter has not commented about AW buying another player with an exotic (and often unpronounceable ) name !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Oops ,sorry ..and thanks

  • FinnGooner

    I saw that. Also I think it was also 1 transfer we really did need. We had lack of young goalkeepers (we can’t count on having our goalkeeping coach being on bench). Thanks for information about him.
    Also I understand why you are excited. I feel same about Glen Kamara, who scored for Finland u18 yesterday, Carl Jenkinson is only half as exciting πŸ˜‰

  • WalterBroeckx


    If I only had time, only time…. πŸ˜‰

  • Thanks, Milan for a good post.

    As to fans who question WHY did we, WHY do we, sign young players are just dumb.
    Every goalkeeper, every footballer, was young, when young.
    Hope he turns out a good ‘un, another Seaman.

    My little rant is aimed not at this post, or this site… just that I’ve already seen stupid comments elsewhere recently re this signing.

    Anyway, I’ve got a headache; I need a hair-of-the-dog.

  • Gerry Lennon

    Just watch the video … are those goal posts smaller, or is he just a big lad?
    I stopped trying to work out what 195c is, sorry.
    Nice post, now let’s see how the Belgian boy does, eh?

  • GoonerGetU

    195cm is about 6ft 5inches

  • WalterBroeckx

    Not a small kid πŸ˜‰

    Wish him well.
    From the video: he does seem to be bossing his penalty area. Not bad I would say

  • Heci

    I welcome these news, though we do sign players into the academy very often and the percent that end up playing any first-team football is very low.

    HOWEVER, these are the sort of investments that are VERY important to a big club, such as ours. It’s very common nowadays and you can see the other big clubs do it too, even though some clubs like Chelsea have the financial power to get these players in when they are more experienced (mainly because they can cover bigger losses anyway).

    Is Iliev really an exotic name? πŸ™‚ I’m from Bulgaria so obviously don’t know if Brittish people find it hard to pronounce. It’s like Eh-Lee-eff or something. Anyway, he is as tall as SZCZ and I firmly believe that shorter GKs do not fare well in the Premier League.

    The only concern I have is for the next 4 years- Iliev will be 21 in 4 years time and by that time it will become more or less apparent if he will make the grade at even the lowest First-team level (though for a GK I think this is way too young). The problem that we could face is a problem which I am worried about regarding the other GK prospect- Martinez. If Martinez does not get games in the Argentina team, which will be next to impossible for the next 4 years I reckon, he will not be able to get the work permit needed for his contract so we may sell him to Spain or whatever in just 3-4 years because we won’t be able to keep him πŸ™ And correct me if I’m wrong but as far as I know the same will apply to Iliev because Macedonia is not yet part of the EU so work permit rules may destroy his chance unless he becomes a full Macedonian first-teamer (before he even gets one or two chances at his club even).

    PS: Cheers Milan, my fellow Macedonian neighbor, hopefully Iliev is announced officially and overcomes all the obstacles in front of him. I remember some Bulgarian youngsters getting a shot at trials at Arsenal that couldn’t cut it but hopefully Bulgaria and Macedonia produce some top players in the near future as they have done in the past, and as have done some of the other Eastern Europe countries nowadays πŸ™‚

  • DeeDee

    The picture is not Photoshopped,the boy himself posted it on facebook.

    RE: Heci, about the permit, I reckon that the boy has a Bulgarian passport, so that qualifies him as EU. Goran Popov also got his permit like that.
    And for Martinez, probably my favorite young goalkeeper, I’m sure he can get the “special talent” permit.

    Thanks Mishe! πŸ™‚

  • Heci


    I’m glad he has a BG passport, hopefully he still becomes your first choice national GK in the near future πŸ˜‰ I guess he will also qualify as homegrown, too, which is a great bonus! I knew about Popov but not about Iliev πŸ™‚

    Martinez already had the “special talent” permit but once he gets to the end of his contract (dunno if his is a pro one) he will have to seek the work permit again and if he hasn’t developed well enough he will not get a second chance πŸ™ I think “special talent” work permits only work for teens, correct me if I’m wrong. Hopefully none of this happens and SZCZ, Martinez and Iliev together become our 3 first team GKs in some future.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Wasn’t Martinez signed before his 18th birthday? If so wouldn’t he be counted even as home grown?
    And maybe Martinez also has an Italian passport?

  • Heci


    Yes, he was signed before his 18th birthday. He will be homegrown if he stays for 3 years with us. Which is likely. However the work permit will persist as he does NOT have an Italian passport. Probably one of the few Argentinians with such problem, I reckon?? Which is a pity πŸ™

  • ian

    Thanks Milan also for a great post. Picking up on Tonys point regarding proven players willing to be sat in the reserves, not only do you have the issue of keeping them happy, but also the issue of the salaries that big players demnad.

    Two knock on affects are FFP and funds for other players.

    On that note the Totts have 4 recognised keepers on their books in Lloris, Friedel, Gomes, & Cudicini (cant believe any of them are on less then Β£20k to Β£30k per week).

  • @ DeeDee
    “I’m sure he can get the β€œspecial talent” permit.”

    Hmmmm… is Wellington, our Brazilian wonderkid still waiting, by the way? That boy’s not just a ‘special talent’, he’s much more than that.

  • Jacobite Gunner

    I don’t know if he would be classed as a special talent however it is interesting to see that the Man u(re)signing Henriquez made in the summer has been given a work permit even though he has had no full international caps unlike campbell who had made international caps. We all know this already but I just wanted to highlight the point if anyone missed it.

  • Goona Gal

    I did’nt know that Martinez might not be able to stay. The current government has made it harder to get special permits so this news is not good news.

    I do wonder how talented the Man U players have to be to be given permits, it might just be appearances, but they do seem to be able to get them granted with ease.

    It would of been good to have Joel Campbell bolstering our attack this season. Even though he only played 20 mins, he looked really good in his first game for Real Betis. We really need one of these loanee’s to work out for us.

  • DeeDee

    @Big Al

    I think Wellington will never play at Arsenal. He has been trouble all the time in Spain and his managers there weren’t happy with his attitude.

    @Jacobite Gunner

    Yes, funny, he qualified as a “special talent”. I don’t want to comment on Henriquez, never saw him play, but I always thought that Ryo’s rejection and the Brazilian twins not was hilarious.

  • Stuart

    Dee Dee,
    Bulgarians still need a work permit to work in the UK even though Bulgaria is part of EU. This applies to Bulgarians and Romanians.

  • Jon

    Candid Gunner… you’re an idiot! πŸ™‚
    Yeah, I am sure newspapers had nothing better to do but photoshop Iliev and Wenger together…
    Iliev has been twice to Arsenal for tryouts, the last one was almost two weeks.

    Arsene himself was very impressed with his GK skills.

  • Jacobite Gunner

    I must admit that it does grate a little

  • DeeDee

    Yes they do, but they are getting one much easier. Macedonians are having troubles obtaining a simple tourist visa. One of the reasons I can only watch away CL games.
    You can take the Goran Popov example. Stoke were denied a permit when they applied, not only because of the citizenship, but because Macedonia’s football rating is miserable. Then he pulled out the Bulgarian passport and he got it. Only WBA were the ones who got the documents faster, so he signed there. There may also be a different working permit rule for sports.

  • Adam

    I thought Martinez went on loan to Oxford united last season. So he must already have a permit?