As ever, there is a demand from supporters for Arsenal to make the requisite acquisitions in the transfer market this summer to help bolster an already promising squad.
No moves have been put in place as yet, but, with regards to the club’s youth set-up, there has already been much activity, with three players on the verge of signing deals ahead of next season.
One of them is Kostas Pileas, a Cypriot youth international centre-back who has impressed whilst on trial at Arsenal. The youngster, who is quick across the ground and is an excellent reader of the game, particularly caught the eye during the AlKass International Cup in Qatar and more recently scored in a friendly against MK Dons. It is hoped that Pileas, if he does sign, will help to shore up Arsenal’s defence at U18 level, which has been porous to say the least over the past couple of campaigns.
There could also be two more high-profile arrivals in the form of French youngsters Yassin Fortune and Jeff Reine-Adelaide. Both players have built up a good reputation in their homeland after some excellent displays for Lens and they now look set to move to North London.
Fortune (pictured), a 16 year old attacking midfielder who was also wanted by Manchester United, is expected to go straight into the U18 squad, whilst Adelaide, a striker, will do likewise but, as he is slightly older, could also feature for the U21 team as the campaign progresses.
There may yet be further arrivals in the youth department before the season gets underway. Arsenal will certainly be looking to produce a more consistent set of results at U18 level having suffered the ignominy of finishing bottom of the third tier of the U18 Premier League this season.
One of the most concerning aspects of the U18 league campaign was that several of the players who were brought in from abroad last year failed to impress. Centre-back Kristopher Da Graca, for instance, struggled during most of his appearances, whilst left-back Ilias Chatzitheodoridis, who was recruited from the club’s Elite Academy in Greece, had problems in terms of his positioning.
Savvas Mourgos, another Greek youngster, did at least show some promising signs in terms of his technical ability, but the midfielder wasn’t able to perform consistently throughout the campaign.
It is hoped that Pileas, Fortune and Adelaide, if indeed they do become Arsenal players, will be able to make a much more significant impact during their first seasons at the club.