Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Newly-signed professionals provide hope for future

Arsenal U18s have struggled in the league this season, leading to suggestions that the most recent intake of scholars isn’t quite a vintage crop.

However, several of those players have signed professional terms recently, indicating that the club does at least have some faith in their development.

Chris Willock, for instance, has already featured for the first-team in a friendly and has long been regarded as one of the best talents to be produced by the club’s Hale End academy in recent years. Willock, who usually operates on the left flank, has given some tantalising glimpses of his ability this season, not least during the Al Kass International Cup in Qatar, where he scored an excellent goal against the Aspire Academy.

Another player whose development is certainly worth keeping an eye on is Kaylen Hinds. An England youth international who tends to play just off the striker, Hinds is adept at linking play and can also finish well himself.

Ben Sheaf (pictured) has also put pen to paper on professional terms. A central-midfielder signed from West Ham United’s famed academy last summer, Sheaf has adapted well since moving to North London. An excellent free-kick taker, he is a good passer of the ball but is still rather raw overall and isn’t the most efficient at breaking up play.

Willock, Hinds and Sheaf join the other youngsters from this intake who have already signed professional terms- George Dobson, Chiori Johnson, Tyrell Robinson and Kristopher Da Graca.

Others seem set to follow suit, too. Finnish goalkeeper Hugo Keto has enhanced his reputation at the tournament in Qatar, whilst striker Stephy Mavididi has found the net with regularity and has also impressed with his work ethic.

Midfielder Harry Donovan, meanwhile, has also developed well, with all of those players listed above likely to be heavily involved in the U21 side next season.

Defender Marc Bola and winger Aaron Eyoma have already featured for the U21 team, but there are some players who require improvement, including Ilias Chatzitheodoridis, Savvas Mourgos and Jonatas Centeno.

In all, though, this intake could prove to be a good one, despite the frustrating results on the pitch this season.

Jeorge Bird is the author of  Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird


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Man Manny

Wish them all the best but in this cut-throat premier league era and increased money coming in, how many teams will be patient with academy products when they can just buy ready-made players?

Man Manny

That includes Arsenal with the added pressure to win titles. If one or two of them can make the grade, that would be great.

Arsene's Selfie Stick

If you’re good enough you’ll play under Wenger.


Did get excited seeing Afobe, Aneke and others coming through. It’s a huge step they didn’t make so becoming less excited.

I guess we have Gibbs, Wilshere and others like Walcott, Ramsey that were with us from a young age, so some successes.

Good luck to them.


I watched the under-17 youth-cup- winning side quite a bit. Wilshere and Coq obviously stood out but I also liked quite a few others from roughly that generation (Afobe, Aneke, Miquel, Evina, Freeman and most especially Barazite), none of whom made it. Yesterday I watched some of the Al-Kass game v. PSG and sad to say we looked utterly dire (apart from the keeper). The score (lost 2-1) actually flattered us as PSG were decent – composed, strong, skilful and tactically clued in. Perhaps we were just tired; the timing of the fixture didn’t favour us as they got a… Read more »


Unrelated but it must be really hectic for chelski and citeh, playing late on Wednesday then an FA Cup tie at the weeke… Oh wait!


All together now:- … “There’s only one lias Chatzitheodoridis!” 🙂


First comment that has literally made me laugh out loud, hysterical. well played mate.


“La la, la la la, la la la…Chatzitheodoridis”


young guns soon to become big guns. good luck to the lads


Their names though

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