By Sir Hardly Anyone
There is a story in circulation that says that nine players in the BVB Dortmund squad are aged under 21 and all are serious members of the squad.
Which is interesting given that while it is written into the German constitution that Bayern Munich win the league each season, BVB Dortmund had to fight a real live competition in order to come second. In fact in the last ten years they have only once been out of the top four in Germany.
And they are not the only ones who are placing ever more emphasis on youth. Borussia Dortmund recently signed Jude Bellingham at the age of 16 from Birmingham City. True he had to wait until he was 17 to become Borussia Dortmund’s youngest competitive scorer, but I guess it was worth it, both for the player and the club.
In the German league the minimum age for a player is 16 and it is said that when that happens for Youssoufa Moukoko, (currently playing in the Borussia Dortmund under 19s) he will move up to the first team and then become the youngest player in the league.
So I began to think about the younger players that we have in the Arsenal squad.
The first thing that is evident is that goal keepers mature later than outfield players. We have, as ever, three keepers ready to play in the first team: Leno (age 28), Dejan Iliev (25) and Matt Macey (26). So no youngsters there. But what about elsewhere: how many younger players do we have in the squad?
William Saliba at centre back is 19, Gabriel (also centre back) is 22. Rob Holding, despite seeming to have been with us for a long time is still only 24.
Two of the full backs are in the younger age group: Kieran Tierney and Ainsley Maitland-Niles are both 23.
In midfield Matteo Guendouzi and Joe Willock are both 21, while Emile Smith Rowe is 20.
Moving forward, Bukayo Saka is now 19 (and incidentally is rated as having a market value of £31.5m), while Gabriel Martinelli is 19 (market value £22.5m). Reiss Nelson is 20, and Eddie Nketiah is 21. So a fair range at the lower end of the age scale – but nothing to compare with what appears to be a new German trend.
The issue of youngsters comes to the fore when we think that we have just committed to giving Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang £350,000 a week. Something which incidentally much of the media said was not going to happen because a) Arsenal didn’t have the money, and b) Aubameyang was going to Barcelona anyway.
In fact, as far as I can see there was never any chance of Barcelona signing Aubameyang because they are certainly in financial difficulty. Oh yes and he was also going to Milan, I seem to remember.
Barcelona didn’t do too well last season, losing the title to Real Madrid, losing in the Champions League 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich and, most recently, having a public spat with Lionel Messi over the validity of his £630m release clause.
Barcelona now don’t have to worry about Messi leaving, at least for this year, but they do have to continue paying him, and as we have reported before, there is a real problem for them with the decline in many of their sources of revenue.
As for how much money Arsenal actually have available to spend on transfers, that remains a matter of debate. Headlines such as “Arsenal willing to sell three first-team stars to make room for Houssem Aouar transfer” abound, and given that these stories are put out there to continue the regular theme that Arsenal are an unsettled team with no money, that seems par for the course. HITC says that there have been numerous discussions over the transfer.
The Express tells us Arsenal are willing to sell three first team stars to raise the money. Those three being Sokratis, Torreira and Kolasinac.
So, just in case you have missed out on who Aouar actually is, here are the bits and pieces…
He is a 22 year old French Algerian who has played 16 times for France under 21s. He is normally an attacking midfielder, but can play anywhere in the midfield. He also has a reputation for being calm.
He joined Lyon in 2016/17 and since then in league and cup competitions has played 139 league and cup games, scoring 24 goals.
If column inches are the measure of who we are going to sign, then he’s the absolute winner.
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