Tuesday, March 5, 2024

The 13 Arsenal youngsters hoping for promotion this summer

Pre-season is officially upon us, and this is usually the time of year when a clutch of promising youngsters start to stake their respective claims for permanent promotion to the first-team squad.

This summer is no different, with no fewer than thirteen members of the U21 side training with the senior group during the first week of preparations.

They can roughly be divided into three categories- those who are in a now or never situation with regards to their Arsenal careers (Benik Afobe, Damian Martinez, Ignasi Miquel, Semi Ajayi and Thomas Eisfeld), those who are looking to add to their experience of professional football (Chuba Akpom, Kristoffer Olsson, Hector Bellerin and Isaac Hayden) and those who are yet to earn a first-team call-up (Jon Toral, Julio Pleguezuelo, Matt Macey and Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill).

Dealing with the first category to begin with, Afobe’s chance at Arsenal seems to have rather run out after a succession of injury problems and difficult loan spells. There is still hope for Miquel, as he looks to establish himself as the club’s fourth-choice centre-back, but he will face stern competition in that regard from Ajayi, a physically imposing youngster signed from Charlton Athletic last year.

Martinez, for the time being at least, is currently the club’s main deputy to Wojciech Szczesny, and the Argentinian will be seeking to cement his position in the squad for the new campaign by turning in some impressive performances during pre-season. Macey, who joined last season from Bristol Rovers, is another ambitious young goalkeeper who will be waiting to take advantage should Martinez falter.

Eisfeld remains a rather peculiar case. The German has played just two competitive games for the first-team since signing from Borussia Dortmund and, despite his impressive scoring record, has a tendency to drift out of matches. He could go on loan this season, which would go some way towards dictating his long-term future.

The next batch of players is quite intriguing. Bellerin would appear to be the closest to the first-team squad, but the defensive side of his game still requires a little fine-tuning. Akpom, having spent time in League One last season, could go on loan to a Championship team this time around, whilst Hayden has improved tremendously over the past couple of years and the defensive-midfielder could be in line to feature in the Capital One Cup. Olsson, a technically-talented midfielder, is entering the final year of his contract and will be hoping to earn an extended stay.

As for the other three youngsters, Pleguezuelo, given his considerable promise, has been tipped to earn a promotion at just 17 years of age, whilst left-back Ormonde-Ottewill has trained with the first-team often in recent years, although he did suffer an alarming dip in form in the second-half of last season. Toral has recovered from the injury problems that plagued him during his first two seasons at the club and will be hoping for a chance to prove himself in pre-season.

Wellington Silva, another with first-team ambitions, is due to start training in the next couple of weeks.

Depending on new signings, there could be space for up to three of the above players to be promoted to the first-team this summer. They will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Serge Gnabry and Gedion Zelalem, with the young Germans having made that transition last year. Yesterday it was revealed that they will both have lower squad numbers for the new campaign- 27 and 35 respectively- suggesting they could be increasingly involved in the first-team picture during 2014/15.

Jeorge Bird is the author of  www.arsenalyouth.wordpress.com  Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird



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Excited to see Zelalem in the League Cup this year, hope he’s been working on his strength which was probably the only downside to his game and at 17 that’s fair enough. Gnabry too!


We all know Akpom, Gnabry, Zelalem, & Bellerin have good chances of making it eventually. A loan spell would help all of them. For me though Isaac Hayden is the one player I rate the highest from this group, great work ethic, great technique for his size, and is a great passer to. I hope he gets more first team chances this year.


Hayden was the sole central defender on the bench for a couple of CL games last season, including v. Bayern. Have to hope he won’t be featuring against that sort of opposition in his first ever first-team game! Good for him to get a chance pre-season in the Emirates Cup, then in Carling and, if he’s still looking the part, some of easier Premiership ties. Gradual progression has to be better and fairer on him than being in thrown in the deep end against City or Chelsea because injuries/suspension mean we’ve got no one else.


Gnabry and Zelalem are the only players who will potentially make the first team. The others will prob be sold for a bit of profit to some mid-table club like liverpool or sp*rs.

Zelalem on the other hand looks a very tidy player, hopefully he’s more Fabregas than Denilson.


the little i see zelalem and the report i see from academy/reserve he has impress that much last season. lot of hype right now

Gunner From Another Mother

Your comment seems rather foolish considering Liverpool finished two places above us in the table last year. As for Sp*rs, well…

Zorro in the box

Thanks Jeorge! Excited for the new season and to see who makes the step. Zelalem seems tipped for big things, Arteta made tacit reference to him in the interview and I wonder whether Wenger was thinking of him as well as Jack, Ramsey and the Ox when he made the decision not to bring Cesc back. Would love to see what Gedion in particular can do. Are we looking to rely on our young CBs rather than sign any? Do they have the flavour of potential first-teamers? And what kind of defender are they, quick and pacey like Koscielny or… Read more »

das pauly bear

Agree with all above but for me tommy esifield is a class act would love to see more of him. Going out early in capital one last year pissed me off cause we didn’t get to see the young guns much


“Serge Gnabry and Gedion Zelalem, with the young Germans..”

Ah-hem, you mean “the young German and American”, right? Right? Please? Please god, please god, please god. Please chose us Gedion.


I’d like to see Wellington Silva, yet to see him play but he sounds like a intereting character


He was a top top top player on FIFA 13 once you recall him from loan. That’s all i know.

Renato Areias

I’m brazilian like Wellington Silva, he is disappointing, he wanted to work out, it’s a pity, he is very unselfish :/


I’d like to see Martinez in the first team.


Well, he’s second choice at the moment so looks like you will if Szczesny gets injured or suspended. I like him but the fact that he spent most of last season on the bench at some Championship club won’t have helped his confidence or his development. Would have been better to have kept him and used him in the under-21 games ourselves. I hate these fucking loan spells at lower-league clubs. Wilshere’s went well – he’s the type of player who flourishes under that style of football – but name me another example where the player hasn’t got injured or… Read more »


I’m pretty sure Wojiciech Szczesny’s six month loan spell at Brentford back in 2010(?) went really well. Hhe came back to the Arse and has, by and large, been the number 1.

Eric Blair

Szechezny at Brentford.
Ramsey at Cardiff.
Song at Charlton.
Cole at Crystal Palace.

There is a bit of luck involved, but perhaps we can manage this side of player development a bit better.


Do you lot think Zelalem could get a Premier League loan due to his performances last year? I think playing in the Prem week in and it could really enhance his development. Somewhat similar to a Lukaku – Everton loan.

Scott P

I’m sure it would help him immensely but I doubt any PL club will want to play such a young guy week in, week out. He’s still young and therefore subject to a somewhat greater volatility of form that even lower table clubs might be reluctant about. I still rate him very highly, but maybe a Championship club can be a more realistic target for this point in time. In addition, his lack of physical presence might bother the lower table clubs that might try to bully their way through matches in which they won’t be favorites to win. Personally,… Read more »


I think for somebody at his age (17) and of his slim build, playing week in week out against fully grown Ryan Shawcrosses is the very last thing his body needs


he is nothing lukaku have you see him play. he is not strong enough , right now its lot of hype for little end product. i think toral is nearer first team than him


I know Campbell can’t really be considered a youngster after this world cup, but what’s his current situation at the club?

Ramsey's spirit

so far as i know, make or break in pre season, 1 year left i think, personally i advocate extending and loaning to a premier club, even if its a free loan to minimize our risk and get his premier league credentials checked


He’s been loaned 4 years in a row now to 4 different clubs. (He was loaned before he joined Arsenal).

Even if you just take our share of 3, and we tell him we’re sending him on another one this year he could get pissed and hand in a transfer request considering he proved he can perform at a big stage in the WC.


Zelalem is no way near a starter for any premier league side, even a player like Giroud needs to bulk up when he moved to Arsenal. Gedion should be loaned out to championship or lower division teams to get regular games every week.

Im suprised aneke was released by arsenal, he was very promising for us, same goes with coquelin. I don’t expect eisfield to stay with us in the long term he is 22 I think.

Hppefully we get to see more of Wellington,bellerin,gnabry and akpom this season.I highly rate a succesfull future for those youngsters! Welcome Alexis!

with the left and the right

Jack Wilshere wasn’t that much bigger than Zelalem was when he was loaned out to Bolton. Size doesn’t matter as long as we can find a club that can nurture him the way we want to, unfortunately i just don’t see any club right now in the EPL that could do it.


Can’t remember who but someone tweeted that Wenger had said on French TV that he had not gone for Cesc because Zelalem would be coming through (although this was on Twitter…anyone can “quote” without verification…even better if you claim it was in a different language!)

AS17 is for A.Sanchez not A.song

The future looks bright


I like Eisfeld and think, should he be given decent-enough play time, could really come through. Best of luck to all of them, though!


From what I have seen (not much) Zalalem and Eisfeld look promising. Hayden looked really bad in one of the capitol one cup games last year but obviously can’t write him off because of that one game.


Hello alex your very welcome and with him i think we have enough arsenal to gun down any pl team this coming season and i pray wenger and co will give our young guns chance to prove themselves especially joel campbell and loan yaya for more option of his striker chase. I will gunners the best of the season. Gunners till death do us part


Saw Jack Jebb play last season. Looked good but then what do I know?! Anyone know much about him?


Tough one. He was seen as a bit of a star, fast tracked similarly to Jack Wilshere, but the signings of Gedion Zelalem and Daniel Crowley have stolen the limelight off him. He had a racism incident last season as well.

He is ridiculously good from set pieces, but needs to show more sides to his game.


Don’t see him making it at the Arsenal, there are too many talented central midfielders in front of him. First of all myself, Crowley, Eisfeld and Olsson are all better than him and of similar age


Personally I don’t think the likes of Benik Afobe, Ignasi Miquel and Thomas Eisfeld really have a chance of making it here, though I’d love to be proven wrong. Afobe has had his injury problems, but Chuba Akpom is younger and just looks so much better. He’s never really impressed out on loan etiher. Miquel’s spell at Leicester was disappointing, which isn’t a good sign. You summed up Eisfeld perfectly, he can score but he just doesn’t do anything else. I’ve not seen enough of Semi Ajayi, but I think with our current centre back situation it would be fair… Read more »


Would love to see these players have a solid run of games on a Championship/lower premier league loan this season because at start of 2015/16 a number of players will be at or near end of contract and could be replaced. For example Gnabry to replace Podolski Olsson to replace Diaby Toral to replace Rosicky Hayden to replace Arteta or Flamini Bellerin to replace Jenkinson if he goes on loan Ajayi to replace Vermaleen These players would have played together for years and start on the fringe of first squad I would give Akpom and Zelalem another season in reserves/lower… Read more »


Özil, FA cup Sanchez Prodigy Zelalem……wake me up please. …….


Do you enjoy other’s suffering? If you do, then head on to


Read the comments and smile smugly 😛


Wow, those guys really don’t like Pedro.

El Blondo

I just shared a train carriage home from London with 35 drubk Cantalan fellows. Let’s just say the “you’ve got a bitey racist we’ve got Alexis Sanchez” chant fell on green ears. Those fans would do anything to get Sanchez back. Oooh to ooh to be a Gooner!!!


I wonder why Dan Crowley hasn’t been invited to train with the first team this pre-season. From the footage I’ve seen (especially that FA Youth game where he scored twice and assisted four times), he’s been spectacular.

I liked Olsson’s poise when watching last year and am sure he’ll develop nicely. Eisfeld unfortunately, is rather old to still be playing second-string football.

Really hope to see more from Gnabry and Zelalem this year (also in the PL).


As it stands 20 of the 25 man squad is in place so there is room for just 5 more (unless some leave) Coquelin, campbell, miquel and martinez are all in contention for one of those 5 spaces along with any new signings. It looks certain that debuchy will take 1 slot, whilst a keeper is surely a must to take another?
However, there is question marks hanging over jenkinson vermaelen arteta diaby podolski and ryo.
Luckily for gnabry, sanogo, chamberlain and zelalem they do not occupy a place in the 25 yet.


Anybody know who the number 10 that Arteta refers to in the Q&A interview from the youth team?

kenyan gooner

i really rate Eisfield hope he will be the next rosicky

Arctic Troll

Under 21s don’t have to be registered in the squad IIRC.


Reading about all these supremely talented youngsters trying so hard to make it into our first team makes me appreciate the likes of Rambo and Ox all the more, making it straight to the senior side at 17/18, and Jack being promoted through the ranks so quickly. What ridiculous talents they are. And they’re ours for there foreseeable future. 🙂

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