Arsenal’s Golden 30: an update on our list of brilliant young players

I started this list the other day, just because I wanted to try and get my head around all the names of young players that crop up.

There was some laughter and criticism of my efforts – laughter because I managed to get people in twice, and criticism because it was said that and do it all, already, and don’t make the cock-ups I make.

But it still struck me as an interesting exercise, because although I do like those two sites, they don’t seem to pull together lots of people’s views.  I just wondered what would happen if we tried to come up with our own list of the kids most likely to succeed, and kept it on the site, and then saw how right or wrong we were.

So this is not to try and suggest that anyone should look at Untold to find out the real inside information on the kiddies – rather that it is interesting for anyone interested to be able to join in suggesting the 30 players most likely to go on and make it.

I think this is especially worthwhile because of late on other sites there has been something of an attack on the whole youth system, some writers even classing it as a waste of money.  My thought was that for anyone who valued what was going on, it might be nice to have our own list that can be changed as time goes by.

Anyway, that’s the thinking, and here is the list, with the latest amendments.  It will now shortly go back onto the daily updates section, accessed from the home page, in case you are interested.   But if you want to make more comments about the list as it stands, please do.

More alert members of the orchestra will realise that we now only have 28 – so two places are up for grabs.  I have removed a few players where there was a universal feeling that their sell-by date had gone, and I also removed a few who were clearly first team already.   Then I added in the new suggestions not in the first list – and we have 28.

Comments throughout are from Untold Arsenal readers.


  1. Afobe, who I regard as almost good enough to make 1st team.   Along with Aneke reckoned to be ready to step up at least to the League Cup squad. His scoring records at all levels speak for themselves. Young English striker.  Same age as Freeman and only a year younger than Wilshere.
  2. Aneke – Young English central midfielder currently playing outstandingly well at U18 level.
  3. Ayling – Yeovil – certain for bigger things.  England.  After his impressive match Barnet game early this year, I thought he was going to break in the first team too but he got injured. Loan for him next year. Ayling is the Laurent Blanc type CB, using skill and brain rather than power.
  4. Barazite. One season too early I think.  Had a bad injury for a while, now battling back.  Holland.
  5. Bartley – Sheffield Utd – in the squad for next year, been doing really well at Sheffield United recently; back up CB Carling team.  England.
  6. Bothello.. Celta Vigo (I don’t think is quiet good enough – or not good enough yet). Brazil;
  7. Coquelin. I thought he could come through this year, but he didn’t.  Surely not another year in the reserves?  I really think he is a talent – it just depends how long it takes to finally make it to the top level.  I hope he stays.  France.
  8. Cruise. Too early for him, but in the Diddly Cup team for sure.  England
  9. Deacon had a good start to the season to not sure where he will be next year probably reserves maybe a loan move?  Striker, England
  10. Eastmond. I sure didn’t see his promotion to the first team come through.  But there he is, and building his strength all the time.   A few more games next season I imagine.  England.
  11. Freeman who is improving in every game.  England. Freeman is closer to first team chance than Afobe, Freeman don’t just score ,he provide more on the attacking side of his game (KEEPING BALL,ASSIST…)he is the most improve striker in our youth squad.
  12. Frimpong.. he needs as many chances as Eastmond.  England.
  13. Galindo (don’t know if he will need to go on loan to Spain next season though to get his EU passport).  Bolivia.
  14. Henderson. Irish Under 21
  15. JET – Doncaster.   Oh yes – he really ought to be breaking through somewhere – not least because he can play every position under the sun.  He is getting great reviews. Doncaster is the sort of club that sounds like it should be in the obscurity of league 2 but with JET playing well they are surging up towards the Championship play-offs.  English.
  16. Lansbury..Watford on loan.  Maybe another loan.  England.
  17. Mannone – we saw how good he was when he stepped in
  18. Merida. So what’s he doing?  Going to the Athletico Madhouse, or staying with sanity.   That goal he scored against Liverpool (I think) was something special.  Maybe we could play one team at the weekend and the other midweek.  Just to give everyone a chance.  Spain
  19. Miguel is not stolen from Barca – They released him and we bought him when he was playing in the lower Spanish league
  20. Murphey, Irish striker.  I think he got a long term injury.
  21. Nordtveit, I know that he’s not doing really good in Nurnberg, because he doesn’t get the chances.  Another loan.   Holland. But we should be aware that the guy is just 19… and there are not many players that AW would loan out for the whole season to a Bundesliga club (I mean, it is the Bundesliga, not the Championship). This should show how highly Nordtveit is rated and that he is supposed to have a strong character.   By the way, making 16 appearances (12 starts) in the Bundesliga at 19 is not that bad for a defender (who can actually play as center back, full back or DM), is it? It looks like he was injured as a new manager was appointed and it doesn’t help. But for the last game, he was reported to be back on the bench. When compared to other defensive prospects (except Djourou who for me is an established first team member), the Norwegian is actually the most experienced there with almost 50 first team appearances in the elite of different countries.    Nordveit is not doing too bad at Nurnberg, he’s been played out of position, which should do him some good, a la Song. liga club
  22. Oguzhan Ozakhup Dutch international 20
  23. Simpson. Is he turning out to be not quite good enough?  I am not sure.  Problem is he has got so many other people blocking his way through at the moment.  England.  If we get 1-2mill that will be a good price. There is always someone willing to pay that kind of money for a good player.   I just dont think Simpson has developed in the 16 months since he signed his new contract. Lack of development is the one cardinal sin when it comes to young players.    Jay Simpson – was never good enough. His Englishness fooled people for a short time. Will be a very good Championship or lower level PL player though.
  24. Sunu is way too young to break through.. it’ll be early.. if you throw him in now he’ll find it hard to adapt to the physicality.. but surely in the diddly cup.  France.
  25. Szczesny. Brentford.   I really think Szczesny might be taking over from him soon, maybe as soon as next season. He looks like one of those rare goalkeeping early-developers like Buffon, Akinfaev, Cech or Lloris.  Poland.
  26. Watt. Been on loan at Southend for a month where he got four games.  Just returned.
  27. Wellington Silva. Young Brazilian striker who is currently playing for Fuminense in Brazil.  Joins Arsenal in January 2011.  Brazil.
  28. Wilshere. the time out doing his stuff in the lower part of the league will have done him no harm.  And if he has learned that he just has to come on and play, then that will be fine.  No fancy tricks, no Bergkamp finishes, just play the game, and you are there.  England.

Removed and sent to the first team since the first Golden 30 list was publsihed

Vela, Gibbs, Djourou, Traore


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15 Replies to “Arsenal’s Golden 30: an update on our list of brilliant young players”

  1. Sunu currently at Derby. 4 Appearances; 2 as sub; 1 goal – not too bad. I really liked what I saw when he came on in the champions league.

  2. Hi Tony, Murphy is actually an England U18 international. Though eligible to play for Ireland he chose to represent England. A real prospect if only he could manage to avoid injury.

  3. Hi QPR fan here, though I do follow Arsenal progress closely for a number of reasons (namely they the club blueprint all clubs should follow), thank for lifting my quote on Nordveit, how very flattering. Don’t count Simpson out too early, he works very hard and is still young. I do think because Arsenal fans have a tendency to write players of too young, although a having such a young side that’s understandable. I know Simpson seems like a veteran these days but players develop a different rates, it’s dangerous to use Fabregas as a template, he’s a freak (compliment).

  4. IMHO Bothello on loan in Spain until he gets a spanish passport is unlikely to make it at Arsenal. He is very good going forward but he cannot defend. With two really good left backs Clichy (slowly coming back to his best), Gibbs with Traore as an understudy of the understudy, his only relist position is left midfield. He will then be facing Arshavin, Nasri, Merida (if he does not leave).

    Coquelin is being retrained as a right back. He is doing really well in the reserve. He is likely to get on loan next year to gain more experience. He has the energy and drive of Eboue but with the tackling ability of Song. He needs just to learn the positioning from Sagna and we will get the perfect right back.

    Bartley is developping like a young Tony Adams. Next year he will be part of the Carling Cup team, and will play in the Champion league dead rubber game.

    Ayling needs to bulk up, otherwise as a centre half he will be pushed over by striker. Technically and positionally he may need an extra year to be ready for the Carling Cup.

  5. very interesting reading. i find myself salivating. OTBAG.

    couple of small corrections:

    6. botelho, not botello

    20. murphy, not murphey

    22. Oguzhan Ozyakup, not ozakhup

  6. Thanks everyone. As soon as I have a moment I will make the changes and then put the list back into the permanent page section. Then I guess we ought to have a vote on which five on the list are going to make an impact next season.

  7. Tony it is always useful to take a look at just who we have. Presumably you have identified nationalities in order to demonstrate that a generation of English kids are starting to come through the ranks at Arsenal. Nevertheless, I do hope we can keep Merida because I think he has the physique and touch to step up and he could well get an extended run next season if he stays. My Five are Merida, Wilshere, Bartley, Freeman and Szczesny who needs to be given a try out in the CCup and to fight out the backup position with Mannone. For me Fabianski needs to go on loan for a whole season and rebuild his confidence.

  8. I still have faith in Simpson. He’s had a decent season for QPR this season, being one of the better performers in a side that has had an awful season in terms of club unrest.

    I reckon he could have a good season as a backup for us next year, I think selling him so quickly could be a foolish decision.

    Another option could be to send him out on loan to one of the newly promoted sides if they want him/need him. I think a season long stretch in a lower down PL club could do him well.

  9. My five…

    1. WILSHERE will play more games then ever for us next season. He’s still the prize of our academy and his loan to Bolton will do him endless goods. Of course, Ramsey being out injured will increase his play time. This also means the end of Merida imo. The boy is smart enough to know he’s not gonna get alot of play time. It’s a shame because I rate him highly but if Merida wanted to stay he’d of signed the line. If I was him I’d be thinking “I’m nearing 21, I have Wilshere and Ramsey in front of me. Athletico want to play me.” It doesn’t take much to know what he’d do.

    2. BOTELHO is due back from his tenure in the Spanish Lower Devision. That’s two and a half seasons of playing solidly (he’s played over 60 times). He’s got great height, which we need, and for someone as tall and lanky as him, he sure is quick. And he’s got tricks a plenty. He’ll definitely go straight into the first team. I do believe Mr Wenger wants to draft Gibbs in as 1st choice LB as soon as possible. Traore isn’t cutting it and should be offloaded where he’ll be great for a mid-level EPL club. Clichy’s productivity is a joke. In 7 years he’s got 1 goal and 7 assists and that’s for someone who’s meant to be attacking. He’s always getting caught out of position leaving us to be sliced open. I’m sure he’ll be sold at some point. I think the future of our LB position is Gibbs 1st choice, Botelho 2nd.

    3. LANSBURY has been actively told by Mr Wenger that he will come back into the first team next season. So on that grounds he has to be in the list of 5. Lansbury has probably got the most play time this season of any of our loanees. He’s been doing as good as someone surrounded by shit can be. I’ve been impressed whenever I’ve watched him. He won’t get alot of playing time next season but dead cert for Carling Cup and the odd substitute appearance.

    4. MANNONE is my personal tip for future number 1. I know alot of people think it’s Szczesny. They might be right, but Mannone is a match winner on his day (Fulham). Fact! We didn’t lose one game with him between the sticks and he should be aggrieved that a couple of silly mistakes (Diamante freekick and dropping a ball he should of punched) got him benched again. He’ll iron them out with age. He certainly has more ability than Almunia.

    5. EASTMOND is gonna be our natural 2nd choice DM after Song. People will say Denilson, but I think Wenger and Denilson prefer him playing alongside Fabregas in a more advanced role. Plus Eastmond is an absolute powerhouse. I really rate him.

    Missing out slightly this year is JET, dunno where he’d fit in right now but he’s definitely gonna be a 1st teamer in the future. There are some other brilliant talents (Freeman) but it’s still too soon for them.

  10. Although I think Wilshere will get more playtime I don’t think it would be at the result of Ramsey or Merida.

    Both of them are far more central than Wilshere, who seems to shine more on the wing than in the centre.

    Also Botelho has an atrocious attitude and seems to be another player we’ve got our hands on like Pennant and Bentley in terms of showing discipline. Clichy is a great defender, looking at assist and goal stats ignores crucial passes and the such that he has provided. Sure he makes occasional mistakes but so does everyone.
    I don’t see Botelho making it into the Arsenal first team unless his attitude has really sorted itself out this season.

  11. My five:

    Wilshire – obviously. Next season he’ll break into the squad properly and get the same kind of playing time that Ramsey got this year.

    Bartley – playing regularly for Sheffield Utd and getting rave reviews. Athletic, big and skillful. He’ll be our 4th Central Defender next season (after Gallas, TV, and Djourou) or 5th if Campbell returns and play Cup matches.

    JET – I get the feeling AW loves this guy. Another earning rave reviews on loan. He is versatile which will help his cause.

    Nordtveit – He started the season very, very well but seems to have tired as the season has progressed and isnt playing as much. But folks, he is playing in the Bundesliga!!!! And he was holding his own at the beginning of the season. He will be in the squad next year.

    Eastmond – Craig has come from nowhere (well, from RB to be exact) but seems a natural in DM. He will get entrusted with a lot more playing time next year.

    4 of the 5 are English. That wasnt even intentional and I didnt even include Sanchez Watt and Henri Lansbury, both of whom I think will be members of the squad next year.

  12. Pardon my cynicism, how many of those Hale End youngsters made it into senior team since 1996?

    Our Chelsea Rent-Boy does not count since he was there during GG/Rioch era. SO are Hughes and Upson.

    I got high hope for Ryan Smith and Ryan Garry, But serious injury cut short their career at Arsenal.

    Kerrea Gilbert?
    Justin Hoyte?
    Stuart Taylor?
    Graham Stack?

    Those youngsters we bought over when they are 15, 16, 17 or 18 years old and had made it are:
    1 – Fabregas
    2 – Clichy
    3 – Diaby
    4 – Song
    5 – Bendtner
    6 – Walcott
    7 – Ramsey
    8 – Denilson
    9 – Armand Traore – open verdict now
    10- Szeczesny – open verdict
    11- Mannone – open verdict
    12- Djourou – open verdict
    13- Eastmond – open verdict
    14- COquelin – open verdict
    15- Gibbs – good chance to make it. But with Clichy?
    16- Gavin Hoyte?
    17- Lansbury?
    18- BArtley?

    As yet, can anyone remember a Hale End Academy graduate – from 1996 and later – that had made it into the senior this season – excluding Sanchez Watt, Eastmond, Gibbs, JET?

    Attrition rate is brutal, perhaps 1 in 50 from Hale End Academy may make it, with Gibbs and Eastmond being the 1st Batch in senior squad, playing regularly during 2010/11 season? Gibbs from Wembledon FC or Luton FC before he came over?

  13. Merlin – you are absolutely right, which is why I find it amazing when people talk about guys like Jay Simpson. The Hale End system wasnt in place in ’96, in fact our youth system was a wreck, a complete and utter wreck, after George Graham. He had completely and utterly destroyed our youth system. It was a shambles. AW admitted at the time it would take at least 10 years to rebuild it (that was in ’98). It isnt just a matter of refocusing. It is about creating a culture and all the names you mention wree from the first years of that change when competition was poor throughout the system and technique standards for older players were poor. As Wenger and Brady have always said, you can’t teach players technique after the age of 13-14, they either have it or they dont. After that age it is about tactics and strength, but technique should be natural. The U18 side that dominated their age group last season was the 10th to come through. It was the 2nd to come through that had spent their entire footballing careers in AW and Brady’s system. That system will not change now, whether or not AW stays or leaves as manager.

    But even with that system in place, for anyone to expect more than 4 or 5 of that list of 30 to make it big is being silly. That isnt how it works. We are at the very top level now so the players have to be at the very, very top level. Wilshire obviously is. Kyle Bartley, Craig Eastmond, Havard Nordveit and JET seem to be as well. Henri Lansbury has been outstanding this season in the Championship. This group has a lot of talent, as seen by the way the completely and utterly dominated their age group last year, which is a pre-requisite for having a group of youngsters come through. The Utd side containing Neville’s, Butt, Scholes etc etc dominated their age group in the same way.

    But they still have to make it. It is always fun speculating about the future, but one has to realise that if even 5 of these kids made it into our squad, that would be a truly amazing, magnificent, incredible, stupendous, ridiculous, fantabulous peice of luck.

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