By Tony Attwood
Through a special arrangement with the excellent Young Guns web site, Untold can now bring you the in-depth news concerning our latest youth signings.
You might remember (if you were paying attention that is) that I went into a spin after Arsenal became the first team to retain the Academy title, and indeed the first to win three trophies in two years – and I believe the Youth Project as some call it, is a central part of Arsenal’s future.
The great thing about our youth system is that with the very best youth players coming through the Youth-Reserves-Loan system we can suddenly get moments such as that at the end of last season where Lansbury appears firing on every cylinder (plus a few more). But always we need to be bringing in more players for the future – and that’s exactly what is going on.
So thanks to Young Guns here’s the first news of the season.
Arsenal have signed Dutch Under 17 international Kyle Ebecilio. He’s a 16-year-old attacking midfielder will join from Feyenoord on July 1st. The story is that he was going to go to the KGB in Fulham, what with him being the cousin of their defender Jeffrey Bruma, but he took a peek at Arsenal and changed his mind.
Arsenal have also signed Norwich City striker Philip Roberts. Although born in England he’s an Ireland Under 17 international has been transferred on scholarship terms after his arrangements at Carrow Road expired. He had a trial with Arsenal towards the end of last season. It is said that he can play either down the middle as a target man, or as a wide forward. And he’s got pace (but you would hardly expect otherwise.)
That makes a fair sized Irish contingent playing for Arsenal including Conor Henderson, Sean McDermott, Callum Webb, Ben Glasgow and Steven Smith.
He scored on his debut for Ireland’s under 16s and on his debut for Arsenal in his trial period, as well as scoring against Juve in the Ferolli Cup.
Young Guns view is that, “Comparisons in playing style with Aston Villa’s Gabriel Agbonlahor are very easy to make, but with the ability to hold the ball up and be dominant in the air, Philip Roberts is added to the collection of promising strikers within the Academy.”
Lastly, Barcelona midfielder Gai Assulin has been offered to Arsenal by the agent Pini Zahavi. The Israel international becomes a free agent at the end of the month, and the player’s father has broken off talks with Barca.
In a situation that sounds rather familiar to the one that brought Cesc to us, Young Guns says, “Assulin is regarded as one of the most exciting prospects in world football, but his development has hit the buffers over the last 12 months. Coach Josep Guardiola has failed to live up to promises of game time, instead promoting Barça B team-mates Jonathon Dos Santos and Thiago Alcántara.”
But this is not a done deal as the agent is also said to be talking to clubs in Manchester, although one can’t imagine why since one is bankrupt beyond belief and the other is a perfect exponent of Prefabricated Football.
Spanish daily paper ‘Sport’ has said that both Arsenal and Manchester Prefab have offered contracts. The player is expected to make a decision shortly.
Assulin can play on either wing or in central midfield and has played full back for his country. In recent months he’s impressed playing on the right and left of a 4-3-3, scoring and creating a selection of excellent goals. Gai has also won comparisons to colleague Lionel Messi, for their similar silky attacking style.
Last of all on the transfers…
Arsenal have been granted a work permit for Argentinian goalkeeper Emilio Damián Martínez. The 17-year-old, who will be first-choice for the Under 18’s next season, will now be available for selection from July 1st.
According to Young Guns Martínez joined us following a trial last August. After remaining with Independiente, he spent the final months of the season with Arsenal pending the permit.
He is first choice for Argentina at Under 17 level, and respected goalkeeping coach Miguel Angel Santoro joined Damián at London Colney during his trial. An incentive based £1.3 million contract has been agreed.
And just in case you remember that hoax story about Arsenal signing an Argentine goalkeeper, flying him over and finding he is only 5’8″, this guy is 6′3″ and has already played 45 minutes against Colorado Rapids at London Colney in March.
FC Lorient are in talks with Arsenal over a season-long-loan deal for Francis Coquelin. Arsenal are also talking to the club about centre back Laurent Koscielny, although the two deals are not connected.
Coquelin joined Arsenal from Stade Lavallois two summers ago, and despite a rapid development, (and endless praise within the esteemed pages of Untold Arsenal) the emergence of Craig Eastmond has limited first-team exposure. Coquelin has had some cup experience and is a regular in the reserves with Coquelin playing both holding midfield and full back. Sheffield United and Reading have also held tentative interest in Coquelin.
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