Tomorrow morning sees the preparations for another campaign officially get underway with the first batch of players due to return to London Colney for pre-season training. Three youngsters in particular will have a spring in their step having signed new contracts with the club over the summer, with winger Anthony Jeffrey and centre-back Zach Fagan signing their first professional deals, whilst striker Zak Ansah has extended his contract by another year.
Much has changed since the youngsters last assembled at the training ground in May, with a whole host of players being released and some especially talented first-year scholars being brought in from elsewhere. For all of the players still at the club, however, the ultimate aim of earning a place in the first-team squad will remain paramount.
For goalkeeper Damian Martinez that dream may just be about to become a reality. The Argentinian goalkeeper has been on Arsenal’s books for over two years but, with Vito Mannone having completed his transfer to Sunderland today, Martinez’s chances of a promotion have increased greatly. Even in the event that another goalkeeper, as seems likely, is brought in from elsewhere, Martinez would still stand a good chance of becoming the club’s third choice custodian as it is highly unlikely that Lukasz Fabianski, at the age of 28, would want to stay around in such circumstances.
Who else could join Martinez in the senior set-up by the end of next month? The Asia Tour should provide us with some clues in that regard, but centre-back Ignasi Miquel will be hoping to finally make the step up to the senior set-up following the release of Sebastien Squillaci, whilst Serge Gnabry will have aspirations of adding to his tally of four first-team appearances, particularly if Ryo heads out on loan once again.
There are also, it should be remembered, several players under the age of 21 who are already part of Arsene Wenger’s squad and will be seeking to become more heavily involved in the forthcoming campaign. One player who falls into that category is Yaya Sanogo, whose signing from Auxerre was officially confirmed this week. The striker has impressed greatly at the on-going U20 World Cup and, although his participation in the competition is likely to deny him the opportunity to travel on the Asia Tour, the 20 year old should feature in the Emirates Cup, where we will be able to make an initial assessment on his credentials.
Carl Jenkinson, meanwhile, will be seeking to take advantage of the uncertainty surrounding Bacary Sagna’s future as he aims to make the right-back slot his own, which may have implications for Hector Bellerin. However, Francis Coquelin,who is now officially a senior player as far as Premier League rules are concerned, may be much less certain about what the future holds amidst rumours that he could be sold this summer.
Tomorrow will represent a fresh chance for many and another opportunity to impress, but for each individual the long-term objective remains the same as ever.