Saturday, March 25, 2023

Jonker: Arsenal scouting must be restructured

In an interview with Dutch football magazine Voetbal International [paywalled], published in September, Andries Jonker has claimed that Arsenal must overhaul their entire scouting network if they are to turn the club’s Academy into the best in the world.

The Dutchman was appointed head of the Academy this summer and has wasted no time auditing the entire set-up and reshuffling personnel recruiting compatriots Frans de Kat and Jan van Loon to take over the under-18 and under-16 squads.

Speaking passionately about Arsenal’s youth project the former Bayern Munich and Barcelona coach outlined the changes he thinks the Gunners must make.

“Arsenal want more talented players to come through, because that has been lacking. They want me to develop the players from the academy much better than it was done before.

“At this moment, considering the investments the club have made, players have hardly been developed properly. This is why they wanted me, a man who can guide the coaches and who can influence the other coaches.

“Ivan Gazidis wants Arsenal to be the best academy in the world. He realises that will cost money and will take time, but that is his ambition.

“The scouting must be restructured all over again. It needs to be brought to a level so that we can bring in the absolute best talents from abroad and from England at an age that Wenger can immediately work with them.

“My chief scout at the academy, Steve Morrow, came and asked me what kind of players I wanted him to look for. So I said, the best player I have worked on, Xavi.

Revealing Arsene Wenger tried to bring him to Arsenal after Euro 2012 (he instead became Felix Magath’s assistant at Wolfsburg) Jonker opened up on how his relationship with the Frenchman has strengthened thanks to a mutual respect for technically astute football.

“Almost every day Wenger and I go through a number of things. He is approachable, but I do have to show him what we are doing. We must not go behind his back.

“It is important that Wenger and I work closely together. What I do see is that everybody at the club has the feeling that they need to have the green light from Wenger before they do anything. But maybe that is not the case.

“I have a very good feeling about the way Wenger and I are working together. We both think the technical side of the game is very important.

“But there are a lot of things in the academy which can be improved or should be done different.”

In a separate interview, also appearing in the Dutch press, Jonker made clear that there’s no point bothering with a youth academy if you don’t have a manager who wants to promote homegrown talent. Interestingly he also confirmed the club have assured him that this is a long-term ambition that’ll long outlast Arsene Wenger.

“I think it is very important to pay attention to youth, that’s why it’s good that we’ve a manager like Arsene.

“If you have a first team coach who doesn’t believe in young player you have to question why you even have a youth academy. I’m glad that he’s extended his contract but the club have told me that when or if he leaves, that a similar kind of manager will be appointed. I also found this important.”

On the issue of restructuring the scouting network it appears Jonker has already started putting plans in place. Shaun O’Connor (the man who discovered Jack Wilshere) has already returned to the Emirates after a spell at Brentford and former Reading and Leeds United boss (and ex-Gooner) Brian McDermott is also thought to have been signed up to work with Steve Rowley.


Thanks to @AlwinKelderman for getting us through Voetbal International’s paywall!

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Tomás Rosicky

He sounds likes a man that knows what he wants. Love to see what he does with Zelalem and Crowley.


Have to agree. I’ve always thought we had one of the best academy around, but the fact is we only give youth more of a chance than any other top club in England, out of necessity, and the fact remains our academy is still relatively poor. This is pretty evident when our U21, U16 and the like keep losing to Villa, Chelsea and Soton. All 3 of which have better academy players. Add in to the fact most of the players who do make it through are purchased when they’re nearing their 20s instead of coming through our academy from… Read more »


Lets not forget the earlier ruling which restricted us to players living within a mile of the club. We didn’t have access to the same quality of youngsters.

No point comparing Arsenal to clubs outside England as factors such as visa regulations come into play.

The easiest source of talent is from colonies which European Nations created in other parts of the world. France have African Colonies, Germany have Poland and Turkey, Spain / Portugal have South and Central America. England have the Indian Sub-Continent. Great for the ECB but does nothing for the FA!!!


How long until the players start coming, we could do with some now…


Very interesting article!


Blah blah blah


Well done.


Troll got your tongue?

Jarl Cenkinson

Sort the camera out first I suggest



Hoosier Gunner

Not sure if you’re insinuating or not, but this is starting to get tiring.


Very well said. There are many things to bleat on about the defeat to Chelsea but not re-signing Cesc is hardly top of the list. He was even poor on Sunday apart from that one assist when we have our whole team bombing forward, you present the same chance to Ozil I’d bet he’d make it as well. Some of our fans fall for the media bullshit so easily it’s unbelievable.

serious note

Sorry but we dont need the media to determine which of the two (cesc or ozil) can offer more to Arsenal. If you know your football you know that Cesc’s organisational playmaking and awareness of all players on the field is simply INVALUABLE. Cesc became one of the worlds best midfielders while at Arsenal. He achieved that with Eboue, Denislon and a bunch of others he had to carry. Ozil was playing with Ronaldo Di maria Benzema etc. Arsene Wenger chose Cesc Fabregas to replace Patrick Vieiera and deemed him ready and responsible enough at the age of 18-19 to… Read more »


Serious Note: *clap clap clap* The second to last paragraph hits the nail on the head. As much as I love Özil and believe that some of the stick is unwarranted the man/woman is right. Cesc leads by example.

Cesc situation is like when you see an Ex and it hurts deep inside, where it could have been so special but you let them get away. We should have just swallowed our pride and took him back.

serious note

Only if we win 3 epl titles in a row plus a champions league or two in the next 5 years will the decision not to bring Cesc back look good, and god help Arsenal if Chelsea wins the league or the champions league with Cesc.

Jack Aron Ox etc need to reward Wenger for this act of faith. He said no to Cesc out of his principles to support the british core of players….


Jesus fuck. By that standard, the Invincibles were pretty ordinary.


Jonker quite a change – rare an Arsenal employee is so forthright.. Good to see Ivan also planning for the post Wenger era so hopefully it will be a seismic change when the boss does retire.


i have bad feeling about this…This cannot be healthy

What I do see is that everybody at the club has the feeling that they need to have the green light from Wenger before they do anything. But maybe that is not the case.


Yes, that was the strongest impression I got from the interview, but I suppose it’s not a surprise. We already knew that Wenger has absolute control over everything on the footballing side. It’s why he likes it with us so much – no other club in the world would give him such power regardless of the results. One of the big differences between Wenger and Fergie is that Fergie would delegate and would regularly change his backroom staff if he saw someone out there who might do the job better. He wasn’t afraid of bringing in young, ambitious people with… Read more »


All you’ve done is draw caricatures of Wenger and Ferguson, as if you know either of them well enough to make such emphatic statements. In fact, all through his career Ferguson was known as a ‘dictator’. And in this article of all places, it is ludicrous to make the claim that “Wenger, by contrast, likes to surround himself with humble subordinates and no one ever gets sacked”. To suggest that Wenger is too timid or too power hungry or whatever to shake up the people in the club, to bring in new people, is absurd. In this article alone is… Read more »


That’s a very crude reading. I didn’t say Wenger is either timid or dictatorial. What I think is that he prefers vertical relationships (father-son, master-pupil) to horizontal, more equal ones. It was an observation made by one of the earliest and best biographies which suggested that in in his youth he was the type of boy that got on better with adults than other children. He had father-figures when young, and in adulthood has become one himself – many of the players have talked about him being a father to them. This rings true for me and explains why his… Read more »


You’re really trying hard to look for a negative here, aren’t you?


I like Arsene. But also thought this was the most interesting and positive thing the interview revealed.


Stand by for all the usual people complaining that this won’t help the team today.

Great stuff making The Arsenal’s future very bright.

Good piece Andrew.


I like what I hear. Hopefully he’ll find and develop players with a little more size than we have.

lauren van luzhny

thank you arseblog for keeping us updated regarding the stuff going on inside the club. keep it up.

Costa Gooner

Sounds ok to me


Seems to know his stuff. But I dont get why he have to run everything through Wenger. Did not seem to help matters with Jonker’s predeccessor. Just give him free hands to do what he believe is best. That is why he was hired after all, cause of his expertise in youth development.

Otherwise Wenger could just plan it himself and delegate to others to execute if he feels he knows best.


Development must go hand in hand with the way we play and what we need in the first team.

This is basic.

And Wenger needs to know who is up and coming where he needs to reinforce from market because we don’t have the player from Academy.

What’s there not to understand?

Trex d Gunner

Sounds like an intelligent chap, who knows exactly what he is doing. Its also nice to know the club is planning for the post-Wenger era.

RoyKeane's Beard

Time to start signing big-ass kids for defensive positions


Calum Chambers, Isaac Hayden. We have plenty of youth potential in the area.

Problem is not youth. Meterscielny are 27++.

We really should have added a player between 23-25 at Cback. That said, there was a restricted market for quality in this area and Wenger took a gamble extrapolating 4 months to 9 months ahead with likely info on availability of certain players then.

A loan would have been a good option or at very least an older player (Kallstrom deal) for cover IMO. Don’t understand the hesitancy here.


I like this guy. He basically said… Your academy is shit and I’m gonna fix it for you!

Fair play to him, hope he proves to be very successful


Which is why Wenger brought him in. Wenger is saying the Academy needs help.



Yes, Arsenal have a good academy but me must push to the next level. In a recent book it was revealed that Arsenal were on the verge of losing their Category A academy status a couple years ago. Glad to see that the club recognizes the need to improve. Hopefully in a few years time our academy can be like Barcelona in which we can expect to use 2-3 new players every year for the first team. (Of course doesn’t mean we should stop poaching from Barca. After what they did with Cesc, I say we sign Munir, Sergi Samper,… Read more »


Barca DNA.

We know loyalty isn’t in that mix.;)

As good as he is, Cesc is a bit of a softie. Should have stayed at Arsenal. he precipitated the move that complicated us and led to a string of top players leaving the club.

OTOH, Wenger was guilty of not building sufficiently around Cesc at that time. Funding was not quite there yet so bad timing all round.


How about restructuring the medics and physios? Oh wait we did that. Seems like the whole club has been restructured over the last several years but wengers still here and still has no plan b.


We just did. News flash.;)

But if you’re built like an egg, you’re built like an egg.


I mean, some managers buy players they actually need and even play those players in their best position. Some managers rotate. Some change tactics. Some make subs when its needed to change games not wait just in case we get more injuries. Evolve wenger or ….


Other teams have injury issues too and are thin in certain areas. Its the same with the criticism at our defending from set pieces. We aren’t Chelsea but if you look at Liverpool and United, they have similar issues. Its just the press in all their bias hold us as the only team to defend with zonal system which is as per usual incorrect. And whilst Wenger has his limits as a tactician, he is not poor by any means. His approach is more laissez faire which requires the players to run the show themselves. He does not like to… Read more »


If you look at the team prior to 2003-2004, it was an older team with ready made experience imported in from market. Where these days, we have to balance out youth with experience as we are a self funded team and may not be able entirely to get top players for the entire squad (unlike say Chelsea and City) Remember as well that whilst Chelsea got Costa or Fab for 30m mark, they can push prices upwards and we will find it hard to follow as we have to spread investments more evenly across the squad. There is also the… Read more »

serious note

So if i get this right…just cause the kid wanted to go home to his boyhood club and be with his mates and family…a kid who had just missed on Barcas epic season and achievements…we will hold it against him like a moaning housewife? We will use ego and sentiment instead of looking at ability and experience?

Simple question: Does Cesc improve Arsenal?

If you say yes then you get him, If you say no then please dont talk football, go watch master chef or something….


you make it sound like going to the butcher’s for some meat. Fuck what the meat is saying, just get it!?!? And yes, we will hold it against him, for there was Wenger who put that trust in him and made him and when the going got tough, our most important player leaves, in a way which wasn’t very flattering. And because real life is not just like football manager, where you look at the stats and just buy. There are ppl involved, know what that means? Ever made a deal in your real life? Did you notice, how you… Read more »


Arsenal’s marketing team IMO is too conservative.

We have a brand for development. It is natural to go into Development Academies around the world.

Provide facilities and good coaching in exchange for potential catchment, revenue and brand marketing.

We are way behind the curve in terms of commercial revenue for a reason.

Made in Nigeria

I’m glad that he’s extended his contract but the club have told me that when or if he leaves, that a similar kind of manager will be appointed…… #Interesting…. I can’t imagine Arsenal without Arsene….


Get the coaches and scouts from southampton. Looks like they know what they’ve been doing..

Policeman's Bangers 'N' Mash

BREAKING: Entire academy out for nine years with fractured gooch.

Cygan Is My Religion

Jan Van Loon. That is all.


We should look into employing some of the Southampton scouts. They seem to do great with their youth, we have taken a right few great players from them, would save us a bit of money too if they’re producing them for us. 3 ex saints are the future of Arsenal, Walcott, Ox and Chambers! 😀 i do not know which one excites me most? But i cannot wait to get Theo back! This is my perfect formation/team i would eventually like to see. …………………..Schezny Debuchy. Mertesacker. Koscielny. Gibbs. …..,…,…..Ramsey. Chambers. Walcott. Özil. Alexis. …….,,………Welbeck. I have a feeling we are… Read more »


I like the English axis in that line-up. Also nice to note that four Arsenal boys – Chambers, Gibbs, Wilshere, and Welbeck – are starting for England today at Wembley.


Who was in charge of the academy that brought us Adams, Keown, Davis, Rocastle, Thomas, Merson etc ? Deserves to be knighted.


Well scouting isn’t the same thing as academy development although the latter needs the former. I think Wenger is mostly disappointed with our scouting since we’ve missed some great deals in the past. As for our academy, Jack Wilshere comes to mind but that’s all. The others were brought from the likes of Southampton.


Thinking about that team never to be forgotten won the league against the odds. We should not forget George Graham for that and its a big shame that he has not received the appreciation he deserves. That was a night of pure football ecstasy and changed Arsenal forever. CHEERS GRAHAM


One of the reasons appreciation is diluted for George Graham is he was sacked for stealing a significant amount of money from the club.
Another reason was he went on to manage the Spuds. True gooners don’t do that.


All managers were taking back handers those days and to the club it was actually pocket money. The man was a legend and screwed by the club. He was jobless and went to the spuds and won them fuck all. The night in Liverpool filled our fans with pride. Dont be a killjoy just because he took a few quid in the back pocket


Why are you calling me a killjoy? Did I say they were my views? I am merely giving you an explanation why George Graham doesn’t get the appreciation he deserves. I will always appreciate GG as he was the manager when I was growing up. My first Highbury game was the Littlewoods Semi Cup final against the spuds in 1987. The first trophy I saw us win was the Littlewoods Cup in Graham’s first season in charge. I note your comment is factually incorrect – GG was not ‘jobless’ when he joined the scum, he was manager of Leeds at… Read more »


Dont forget as well as a player George was a double winner. Doesnt anyone else wish to see this man come on the pitch one day at the emirates and get the salute he deserves and do not forget Wenger earns an absolute fortune in comparison. GEORGE GRAHAM deserves his name in the Arsenal hall of fame! Agree or disagree?


Seems apt that George Graham is coming on Arseblog and blowing his own trumpet under the pseudonym ‘Forfuckssake’…

Az Ahmed

I think i would take the boring boring arsenal label if it meant we could win things. Obviously we love aesthetically pleasing football but to give up aesthetics for success was the way of Graham

Bouldy's Tupee

This guy means business when it comes youth development. Exciting times are a comin’. #nojonkingaround


George graham is an absolute legend, my first real memory of arsenal was that “it’s up for grabs now” moment.

Winning the title that year would be as much as an achievement or maybe even more so than winning the title this year… Liverpool were immense and we were a bunch of alcoholic chancers lol

Giroud's abs

I’m really excited to see what he can bring to the Arsenal academy. He seems much more willing to speak than most youth coaches have been. Hope to see more of the likes of Adams and Wilshere coming through from his work!


Goonergoose or Goonermoose you are losing the point. The article is about the academy looking forward to the future. I was simply referring to the past when we produced many great young players that went on to achieve one of the greatest iconic victories in football history on Liverpool soil. It should not be forgotten who managed that team.


Can he play CB?

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