This season, the Arsenal Academy passed the landmark of 50 internally-produced players having represented the first-team in a competitive fixture. For some of the youngsters who are schooled at the club, however, they are cast aside before they have even been given a sustained chance to shine in the Reserves.
For the group of young players that were part of the scholarship intake in summer 2010, decision time is rapidly approaching on their futures at the club, with Liam Brady and David Court, who overlook the Academy, likely to make their feelings known before Christmas as to which players should be offered an extended stay via the medium of a professional contract and who should be released.
Several members of that group have already signed professional contracts (Zak Ansah, Martin Angah, Kyle Ebecilio, Elton Monteiro and Nigel Neita), whilst three more have departed in the early stages of the season but there remain nine youngsters whose futures currently remain undecided.
Perhaps the most intriguing case is that of Alban Bunjaku. A player possessing sublime technical ability who found the net nine times for the under-18s last season, Bunjaku has seen his development stifled by injury problems and, despite his obvious flair, is regarded by the club’s coaching staff as somebody who dwells on the ball for too long and therefore slows down the overall speed of the team’s play. If Arsenal were to release him then, certainly from those who watch youth football regularly, eyebrows would be raised, but it again shows that it is not just your overall ability that determines your future but whether the team will benefit from it or not.
Others seem more likely to make the cut. Goalkeeper Reice Charles-Cook, whose praises were sung in this column last week, seems sure to be offered an extended stay once he is over his current injury problems, whilst midfielders Josh Rees and Jordan Wynter and striker Philip Roberts should join him.
At the other end of the scale, full-backs Ben Glasgow and James Campbell, who both spent much of last season on the sidelines, are among the prime candidates to depart, despite having made steady improvements in the opening stages of this campaign.
The fate of the other two players, Samir Bihmoutine and sprightly winger Jeffrey Monakana, is perhaps the most difficult to call, but, whatever decisions are made, the cull is a necessary and frequent part of youth development as room needs to be cleared for the new batch of youngsters, including the four foreign recruits acquired in the summer, to come through.
Interesting article. I keep trying to follow the reserves and youth teams more.
I agree, very interesting to read and an eye opener for those of us who don’t often take the time to look past the first team. More of the same please!
The club make the right decisions on youngsters in wengers reign how many of world class or even top prem ability have slipped through the net…answer 0. He has however brought through countless unmatched amounts of top prem/world class players to fulfill there potential. More of the same part of the reason wenger is a genius.
Isn’t that why they are in training? Train the hell outta Alban till he stops dwelling on the ball. IMO you shouldn’t drop a player with obvious talent on something trivial like keeping the ball for too long.
Couldn’t agree more with David.
The mans a genius (Wenger that is-I’m sure youre close Dave) for more evidence read his autobiography, the meticulous way we scout, where we scout, How we identify the traits we want. Honestly the man could run planet earth.
The man is our shankly, paisley, clough and that’s why I’ll defend him to the end.
I think more praise should go to David Court & Liam Brady both have done a fantastic job at the Academy & deserve as much credit as Wenger. (legendary players as well!)
And after 15 years of ‘genius’ how many have made the first team with any sort of regularity ?
Answer Ashley Cole, Jack Wilshire and………errr…..
Under Bertie Mee the following came through the youth ranks : – Pat Rice, Sammy Nelson, Peter Story, Peter Simpson, Charlie George and John Radford. Guess that must make Bertie a ‘super genius’.
this must be the joke of the century.
Really rob? Schezney? Fabregas? Gibbs? Clichy? Bendntner? Cole? Wilshere? add to that the likes of diaby anelka Denison viera?toure?Players bought young with no real pedigree turning them into top players then we go to the mediocre unknowns like pires,Lauren,petit,Adebayor all these plus probably twenty more world beaters then he goes for the previously unsuccessful but potential or injury hit before like nasri bergkamp Henry over mars……do I need say more why the guy is a genius with a net spend of 15million over his whole arsenal reign whilst paying off our unbelievable stadium has still kept us with the big… Read more »
Don’t forget Song who started in the reserves, with fans constatnly wanting him sold.
I hope Neita makes it…haven’t had my XTC album out since Nutty left….
Yes ‘really’ David – as in ‘Really’, because this is a discussion about progression from the Youth team through to holding down a regular position in the First team and all the examples you site were either poached from other clubs, or arrived as transfers. A different subject.
As for ‘Tsotia’s ” joke of the century” – it is in a way. Because only amongst the oleaginous new breed of post ’96 nuvo Gooner fans, could a post reminding people of Bertie Mee, need to be hidden from view for the vast offence it caused.
Says it all ‘Really’.
Players weren’t so much in control of their destiny then. The majority lasted longer at any given club. You’re really comparing peas and beans. Both come from a green pod, but there are a host of small differences (Bosman, CL, Big Money as opposed to BIG Money etc) that add up to different vegetables (as it were). Bertie Mee was great. As a young fan it was him I saw, so figurehead or not, he was the man. He turned Arsenal from a team that were perennial 7th place getters (or so it seemed to me back in the late… Read more »
Name one club that doesn’t get their players from other teams? Barcelona, the media’s obsession, scout all teams around spain and catalonia to get the best young players and 50% of those will have no chance of getting in the first team with another 45% going on to make a handful of appearances and the last 5% making te first team. You can’t use players getting into the first team as a way of judging a managers ability to find players. Those same players could go on, play at a lower club and have a fantastic career due to being… Read more »
Billy Wright gave Simpson & Story their chance George, Rice and Nelson were coached by Dave Sexton and Don Howe was the brains behind the double winning team. Mee was just a figurehead
he shouldnt have sold Emanuel Thomas that guy had obvious talent