The major news concerns Terry Burton, who was confirmed as the club’s new Reserve coach in a statement last night. It was also revealed that Burton, a former youth player and coach with the Gunners, will oversee Arsenal’s maiden campaign in the NextGen series, the youth equivalent of the Champions League, in which they will face several talented sides from across Europe.
It is not exactly clear, however, which players Burton will be working with in the forthcoming campaign, with his pool of options likely to be made considerably smaller by the fact that several of the players at his disposal will head out on loan over the next few weeks.
One player has already done so in Joel Campbell, who has linked up with Real Betis in La Liga after showing glimpses of his potential with Lorient last season. The Costa Rican striker also shone at international level, but, as Arsene Wenger acknowledges, needs to develop more consistency in his game before he is ready to challenge for a place in the Arsenal first-team squad.
Another striker, Benik Afobe, has been linked with a temporary switch to Birmingham City, although any such move will not occur until the 19 year old has returned from the UEFA U-19 Championships in Estonia, where he is currently representing England’s youngsters. Like Campbell, Afobe possesses much potential but is still quite a raw talent and another loan spell, to add to the time he has spent with Huddersfield Town and Reading, would surely stand him in good stead for the future.
The Reserves get their pre-season fixtures underway against Boreham Wood at Meadow Park a week on Saturday before facing further games against Stevenage, Chesham and Dartford. It has been suggested that Jack Wilshere, as he makes his way back from almost an entire calendar year on the sidelines, could feature in one or two of these matches to build up his fitness, although that has yet to be confirmed.
There will, however, be some youngsters featuring with the first-team squad this summer throughout the Asia Tour and beyond. Nico Yennaris, Kyle Bartley and Conor Henderson have all been earmarked to feature in Asia, while others, such as goalkeeper Damian Martinez and midfielder Thomas Eisfeld, who joined from Borussia Dortmund in January, could also feature in some capacity.