With the vast majority of Arsenal’s youngsters due back at London Colney a week on Monday, anticipation is beginning to grow ahead of the new campaigns at reserve and youth levels and this week there have been some interesting developments with regards to the club’s development set-up.
Chief among them is a report in The Independent this week that indicates that Terry Burton, a former coach at the club, is now the prime candidate to take charge of the second string following Neil Banfield’s promotion to the first-team coaching staff. Burton was briefly a Reserve coach with the Gunners during the 1980s and helped to bring the likes of Tony Adams through the system.
Prior to that, Burton was part of the Arsenal youth side that won the FA Youth Cup in 1971 but was not offered a professional contract at the club. During his 24 year coaching career he has taken in spells at Wimbledon and West Bromwich Albion, whilst assuming the role of assistant manager at Watford, Cardiff City and West Bromwich Albion. If selected, Burton, who impressed during the interview process with the club, would bring a hands-on approach to proceedings and is likely to be offered advice from Steve Gatting, another former player who is likely to step up from the under-16s to the under-18s in the wake of Steve Bould’s promotion.
As far as playing matters are concerned, the seemingly never-ending saga surrounding Alban Bunjaku finally reached a conclusion this week when it was confirmed that the talented midfield player has signed for Spanish side Sevilla. Bunjaku shone during his first season as a scholar, catching the eye with his sublime technical ability, but failed to break into the reserve side on a regular basis and, having let his frustrations be known to the club’s coaching staff, the relationship between him and Arsenal quickly soured.
The club still retained their offer of a professional contract but Bunjaku, who came through the Hale End system, opted to look elsewhere and, having also spent time on trial with West Ham United, will now link up with Sevilla’s B side in the Spanish second division next season.
Another player with Spanish connections was confirmed as having signed a professional contract today with Hector Bellerin, having enjoyed an impressive first season at the club following his move from Barcelona, joining Kris Olsson, Jordan Wynter, Samir Bihmoutine, Reice Charles-Cook and Philip Roberts in putting pen to paper on a new deal that will run until 2014.
The club also confirmed the 12 new scholars starting at London Colney next month, the identities of whom were known some time ago. The stand out figures among this group include England youth internationals Jack Jebb and Chuba Akpom.