There are some crops of Arsenal youngsters that immediately strike you as being full of talent. The class of 2007/08, many members of which went on to win the FA Youth Cup and Premier Academy League a year later, certainly fell into that category, but, so far, the current batch of hopefuls does not appear, at least at first glance, to contain too many players who could be fast-tracked into the first-team within a few seasons.
One player, however, continues to stand out, and if you haven’t heard the name Dan Crowley before, you may well do so on many occasions in years to come. The England youth international midfielder, who only recently turned 16, was signed from Aston Villa in the summer to much acclaim, and proceeded to turn in some impressive performances during the Arsenal XI’s pre-season programme.
For all his potential, Crowley has started the campaign with Carl Laraman’s U18 side, but, at present, that is the perfect level for the talented young midfielder to develop as he can excel against players of a similar age, rather than being subjected to robust challenges from more experienced professionals in U21 fixtures.
Crowley’s performances in the opening two games of the season have served to highlight his undoubted talent, with the first-year scholar scoring his first goal for the U18s in last weekend’s 4-2 defeat to Fulham. The strike was a fine one; an effort which was struck well out of the goalkeeper’s reach, but the sublime piece of skill that preceded it was what left most spectators amazed.
This is a player who knows exactly where to find his team-mates on the pitch, whilst also being unafraid to go for goal himself, as he proved with a man-of-the-match winning performance for Villa against Arsenal at London Colney last season.
That said, there are still many steps remaining in Crowley’s development if he is to reach the pinnacle of the game. As alluded to earlier he does struggle a little at present when he comes up against opponents who possess a propensity to foul him at every possible opportunity, whilst, for all his calmness in possession, he can be guilty of holding onto the ball for too long on occasion.
If all goes well, though, and Crowley continues to develop as the campaign progresses, he could well see himself involved in the U21s during the second half of the season. It will be some time before he is even considered to train with the first-team and he must remain level-headed as he rises up the ranks, but, given time, this summer’s acquisition of Dan Crowley could prove to be a very astute one indeed.