Arsenal’s use of academy players; club transfer comparisons; use of teenagers.

By Tony Attwood

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​
Antonio Conte​ none​ 0​

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

Most transfers:

Everton 10, Manchester City 5, Chelsea 5.

Club Player  From Date Fee Total £
Arsenal (2) Alexandre Lacazett Lyon July £46m £46m
Sead Kolasinac Schalke June End of contract
Chelsea (5) Antonio Rüdiger Roma June £29m £126.7m
Ethan Ampadu
Exeter July Compensation
Willey Cabeleero
Free agent July £0
Tiémoué Bakayoko Monaco July £39.7m
Álvaro Morata Real Mad July £58m
Man City (5) Douglas Luiz Vasco de Gama July £10m £165
Danilo Real Mad July £26.5
   Bernardo Silva Monaco July £43.6
 Kyle Walker  Tottenham July £50m
Ederson Benfica June £34.9m
Man U (2) Victor Lindelof Benfica June £31m £106m
Romelu Lukaku Everton July £75m
Liverpool (3) Andrew Robertson Hull July £8m £44.9
Mohamed Salah Roma June £36.9m
  Dominic Solanke Chelsea May Released
Tottenham £0
Everton (10) Cuco Martina Southampton July Released £58.7
Michael Keene Burnley July £25m
Josh Bowler QPR July Unknown
Sandro Ramírez Malaga July £5.3m
Henry Onyekuru Lupen June £7m*
Nathangelo Markelo FC Volendam June Unknown
Davy Klaassen Ajax June £23.7m
Jordan Pickford Sunderland June £25m
Boris Mathis Metz July 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
Nathan Aké Chelsea June £20m
Jermain Defoe Sunderland June Free
Connor Mahoney Blackburn July Released
West Brom (4) Ahmed Hegazi Al Ahly July Loan £12m
Yuning Zhang Vitesse Arnhem July Undisclosed
Ben Pierce Free Agent July Free
Jay Rodriguez Southampton July £12m

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

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11 Replies to “Arsenal’s use of academy players; club transfer comparisons; use of teenagers.”

  1. What bothers me every pre-season, is that academy and other reserve players are invariably seen, raved over performance and rarely seen again. 😉

  2. Arsenal v Chelsea tomorrow will be shown live on ITV commencing at 1230 pm BST. Be there! 😉

  3. Nicky
    Me too.
    Its like they drop performance, but places are thin and only through any unfortunate injury could they get a longer chance to impress.
    And impress they must to sail right into the 1st team.

  4. After a few seasons at Manu(if he lasts that long) he(Mou) may start to realise the job AW has had at Arsenal these past years.

    Still, he is known for his seemingly innocent statements that are full of hidden barbs, is he not?

    They do say, once a thief…

    OK, come out of that, now.

  5. I see some of our less intelligent supporters are displaying their stupidity to the world on Twitter by slagging off Kolasinac for his performance against Bayern.
    Some of our supporters are incredibly thick and stupid and the sites that seem to make a living out of posting their ignorant twitter comments as being representative of Arsenal support in general should be ashamed of themselves.

  6. The youngsters know that pre-season games are where they get the maximum exposure.
    So they train to peak for those games whilst the 1st team squad are still quite early in their pre-season training. So the ‘Kids’ with talent often do stand out, but their level drops a little when the season really starts.
    However as soon as the real season starts, 1st team players should be hitting their stride physically+.
    Add this to the need of top PL clubs to perform in every one of their 38 PL games and it makes it difficult for the manager to pick the youngsters for anything more than some ‘Beach 😀 ‘ time.
    If our 1st eleven manage to get a decent lead in games then the kids would get more playing time, so it’s up to the starters to get some early goals without conceding… please!

  7. If Walker (from tinys to $iteh) is worth £45m then Bellerin is worth well over £50m!

  8. Mick, to be honest he was rather poor against Bayern. But the fact he came off even during the first half showed something was wrong with him. Wenger has said that he had been sick like some others. So I see no reason to slag him off at all. But maybe I am not as stupid as they are.
    I remember (probably the same) people slagging off Nacho and for me has been one of the better players of last season.

  9. I do like MaureenO’s comment.
    He bought lots of players at well over the market prices when started at Chavski but now he’s having a little whinge because he can’t quite do that any more…
    He’s still got bloody deep pockets full of his clubs money, but not as much as some others 😀

  10. Walter
    The brainless idiots were calling him, fat, rubbish and shit, a waste of money. After one and a half games at the start of pre season, at a new club in a different country, with new team mates and on top of that obviously ill. And there are sites that peddle this rubbish.
    Sorry but I get so angry when I see this sort of thing.

  11. OT: M Flamini followup

    I am fishing for information on bio-polymers, and ran across a recent compilation of companies and products of a biological nature. And GF Biochemicals is listed. I think that is the company that Flamini is involved in.

    They had 50 employees in Italy and the USA producing 3 million pounds of products.

    Advancing the Biobased Economy:
    Renewable Chemical Biorefinery Commercialization,
    Progress, and Market Opportunities, 2016 and Beyond

    Arsenal is not mentioned in the snippet.

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