Arsenal used graduates from their academy more than any other Premier League side last season, a study by the Press Association has found – with the graduates taking part in a tiny fraction under one fifth of the Premier League minutes played.
6,628 of Arsenal’s total Premier League minutes – which to be precise is 19.4% of the total played, were played by graduates of the Arsenal youth academy. Six players contributing to that tally.
Although Manchester United used more players, and can claim to have played the first young man born this century in the Premier League (Angel Gomes) the players generally got quite a lot less time than at Arsenal and made up 17.1% of the minutes played.
Now you might be excused from thinking that this is quite nifty news – a way of generating players for the first team without lashing out £50m a time for them. Also if any of the warnings about what happens to the import of players after the UK leaves the EU and what happens to the pound sterling against the Euro, are even partially true, this production line is going to be worth a tremendous amount to Arsenal.
Indeed it surely is already. There was talk of Bellerin being worth £35m and surely the value of Maitland Niles and Nelson is beginning to rise.
But, discussion of leaving the EU is forbidden in football (at least that is what the football journalists and their editors think – largely on the grounds that “it is a bit too sophisticated an issue for our readers”). So naturally in the face of this rather interesting revelation journalists have been under order to find stories that “put Arsenal back in its place” and “knock the smile off those ****s faces”.
Sky Sports were in quickly with a note saying that of Arsenal’s six graduates playing for the club “only Kieran Gibbs and Ainsley Maitland-Niles are still eligible to play for England,” which doesn’t really matter to Arsenal as long as the guys get their citizenship sorted out before we leave the EU.
The other graduates who contributed to the numbers are Hector Bellerin, Francis Coquelin, Alex Iwobi and Emiliano Martinez. All of course count as Home Grown for PL rules, but the HG are certain to change in two years, since they too were only implemented to meet EU regulations. The rule is most likely to be 75% British nationals in each team.
However this praise for Arsenal was all too much for several newspapers whose journalists went back to a different set of statistics to prove that (in the words of Football365)
While Tottenham have a generally young squad, Josh Onomah’s 18 minutes is all that Mauricio Pochettino has given in terms of teenage minutes this season, while 19-year-old Ainsley Maitland-Niles has played just a single Premier League minute for Arsenal in 2016/17.
How the Top Club Managers Have Used Teenage Players in the Premier League:
|Manager||Teenage Players||Minutes Played|
|Jose Mourinho||Marcus Rashford, Timothy Fosu-Mensah||1,445|
|Pep Guardiola||Kelechi Iheanacho, Gabriel Jesus, Aleix Garcia||414|
|Jurgen Klopp||Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Woodburn, Ovie Ejaria||242|
|Mauricio Pochettino||Josh Onomah||18|
|Arsene Wenger||Ainsley Maitland-Niles||1|
Pretty damning eh – except… there is a huge difference between nurturing young players so that they can develop productive careers for themselves and their clubs, and throwing them in at the deep end.
Young players are far more susceptible to injuries if used too quickly, both because they are still growing, and because older thugs in the league are happy to chop them down. Just because we haven’t had a Shawcross incident or a Dan Smith horror show for a little while, it doesn’t mean the thugs are not still out there prowling for players to maim.
I am not saying that the use of teenagers is always wrong, but there is a fundamental difference between the use of teenagers and the use of players brought up through one’s own academy. A player’s age, for me, is only important in the sense that teenagers are more vulnerable. Using our own academy could be a huge bonus in the years to come if I am right and importing from overseas is restricted under new immigration rules.
So returning to the issue of the academy it is interesting to note that Manchester City, who tried to defend themselves against Uefa sanctions and fines for breaking the FFP rules by arguing that they had spent their money on developing second to none youth facilities, actually had the lowest total of UK-developed players in their squad last season. In fact Man City had the greatest proportion (41 per cent) of players developed outside Europe.
In another twist to all this Mourinho has announced that he has changed his transfer plans because Manchester United cannot match clubs who “buy and buy and buy non-stop”. A rather interesting statement from a Man U manager.
“I asked for four players,” Mourinho whined, “but I’m ready to go from four to thee because the market is difficult and some clubs, they think the market is different than the others… We are not a club that is ready to pay what the clubs want us to pay.” Are the Glazers getting worried?
Anyway, here’s the updated charts of transfers this summer thus far. Thank you to everyone who wrote in noting the duplicates in the last edition. My excuse: gross incompetence on my part.
Top spenders are…
- Manchester City £165m
- Chelsea £126.7m
- Manchester United £106m
- Everton £58.7m
- Bournemouth £50m
- Arsenal £46m
Everton 10, Manchester City 5, Chelsea 5.
|Arsenal (2)||Alexandre Lacazett||Lyon||July||£46m||£46m|
|Sead Kolasinac||Schalke||June||End of contract|
|Chelsea (5)||Antonio Rüdiger||Roma||June||£29m||£126.7m|
|Álvaro Morata||Real Mad||July||£58m|
|Man City (5)||Douglas Luiz||Vasco de Gama||July||£10m||£165|
|Man U (2)||Victor Lindelof||Benfica||June||£31m||£106m|
|Liverpool (3)||Andrew Robertson||Hull||July||£8m||£44.9|
|Everton (10)||Cuco Martina||Southampton||July||Released||£58.7|
|Nathangelo Markelo||FC Volendam||June||Unknown|
|Wayne Rooney||Man U||July||Free?|
|Southampton (1)||Jan Bednarek||Lech Poznan||July||£5.7m||£5.7m|
|Bournemouth (4)||Asmir Begovic||Chelsea||May||£30m||£50m|
|West Brom (4)||Ahmed Hegazi||Al Ahly||July||Loan||£12m|
|Yuning Zhang||Vitesse Arnhem||July||Undisclosed|
|Ben Pierce||Free Agent||July||Free|
The Index of Indexes
- The In Index: All the players tipped to be joining Arsenal this summer
- The Out Index: All the players tipped to be leaving Arsenal this summer
- The Purchase Index: All this summer’s player buying by the top 10 clubs of last season (above)
- The Loan Index: The top clubs compared in terms of players loaned out