Former Arsenal youngster Nacer Barazite believes that he didn’t get a “fair chance” during his time at the club, he has revealed in an exclusive interview.
The Dutchman, who signed as a 16 year old from NEC Nijmegen, impressed at youth and reserve level for the Gunners but failed to make a single league appearance before leaving for Austria Wien in January 2011.
It was there that he made the most of his obvious talent, scoring a remarkable 11 goals in just a dozen Europa League matches; a run of form that soon earned him a €3m move to AS Monaco at the turn of the year.
Often the star of a reserve side that featured Wojciech Szczesny, Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs, Barazite was tipped by many to break into the first team but he was restricted to just a handful of League Cup appearances before his departure, something that still puzzles him.
“To be honest I do believe I wasn’t given a fair chance to break through into the first team,” he said. “Because I made my debut in the Carling Cup and then two weeks later I got a chance to play against Blackburn in the quarter finals where I did quite well but I got an injury in that game.
“And after that I wasn’t given proper opportunities which other young players did get, who I believe did not perform as well as I did, for example, when I went on loan to Derby County.
“So if the question is ‘do I believe I got an honest chance?’, then I would say I do not believe I got an honest chance but that’s football – sometimes you don’t get there and you have to move on.”
Speaking about his former team mates’ success, Barazite did reserve special praise for Kieran Gibbs’ rapid development.
“At the time I came [to Arsenal] Gibbs was not really a player who was standing out from all the others, who was well known by everyone, but suddenly he started playing very well and he got his opportunity and he took it.
“For example he went on loan to Norwich City and he didn’t perform very, very well but he did enough. He came back and he got his chance anyway and he took it very well and now he’s performing great so that’s another situation: where you can do very well on loan, for example, and not get a chance but the opposite is also possible.”
While Gibbs’ progress may have been doubted by some at the club, two other Academy graduates’ career paths have come as far less of a shock to Barazite.
“If you look at Jack Wilshere and Wojciech Szczesny, they are players who were standing out already in the youth sides and you could see, yes, they were big prospects and their potential came out.”
Nacer Barazite was speaking to Morgan Lake. You can follow him on Twitter @MorganL91.