Thursday, February 2, 2023

Where would Nwakali and Chukwueze fit into Arsenal’s youth setup?

Arsene Wenger confirmed for the first time today that Arsenal are hopeful of completing the signings of Nigerian prospects Kelechi Nwakali and Samuel Chukwueze. The pair, who played a pivotal part as their country won the U17 World Cup last year, have been heavily linked with a switch to North London and it now seems highly likely that the deals will go ahead.

There have been some suggestions that the starlets won’t be able to play for Arsenal until they turn 18, but, even if that proves to be the case, they will still be able to train with the club and familiarise themselves with their new surroundings.

Any new youth signing tends to be met with a considerable level of fanfare, and these potential acquisitions are certainly no different, especially when it is taken into consideration how highly the players are rated in their homeland. With that in mind, it seems appropriate to assess which prospects they will be competing with as they attempt to break into the Arsenal first-team squad.

Nwakali, who was identified as the standout player at the aforementioned U17 World Cup, is an attacking midfielder with much flair. The captain of his country at youth level, he is capable of making surging runs and initiating attacks.

Arsenal are certainly well stocked for prospects in that position, with Gedion Zelalem and Dan Crowley the two most notable youngsters who operate in that area of the field.

Zelalem has been rather impressive on loan for Rangers this season and has weighed in with several assists for the Scottish giants. The United States youth international is still seen as one of Arsenal’s brightest young talents, even though he has some aspects of his game to improve upon, such as his tactical awareness and physicality.

Crowley arrived at Arsenal from Aston Villa with quite a reputation intact and has delivered some tremendous performances at youth level, but he struggled to make an impact whilst on loan with Barnsley earlier in the campaign and will be hoping to enjoy a more productive temporary transfer at some point in the near future.

With so many midfielders on the club’s books both at senior level and in the youth section, it is testament to Arsenal’s belief in Nwakali’s ability that they are so intent on signing him. If the deal goes ahead, it will be intriguing to see who the winner is in the battle to make the breakthrough.

Chukwueze, at 16, is slightly youngster than Nwakali, but he is still seen as an excellent prospect and has scored three goals in seven games for Nigeria at U17 level. There are some talented young wingers on Arsenal’s books, such as Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Chris Willock, Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith-Rowe, so Chukwueze would certainly face a difficult task to edge out his competitors as he attempts to make the breakthrough.

In both cases it will be interesting to see how the new recruits fare and the added level of competition for places at academy level will bring out the best in all of the individuals concerned.

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

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Nwakali has the ability to go all the way, strength, stamina, an eye for a pass and very good technical ability but
I reckon the addition of Chukwueze to the deal might just be reminiscent of the “Jeff and Fortune” deal. Either way, if they can both put in the work required and not get carried away by their new environment, then Arsenal have at least a first team player for a bargain, dare I say, the next Yaya Toure.


Exciting to have some fresh African players again. It just adds to our global appeal and I like having such a multicultural squad. Both seem very promising as well.


Let them fight it out with the rest of the kids. Who says they may not be better?

Harish P

Dual to the death, great idea!


You never know by attrition who will make it We have had so many bright prospects fall off the way side as is natural because of competition. Gnabry at the moment is in danger of losing his way. I remember some years back Alban Bunjaku look extremely promising as a striker/attacking mid, tall with good technique. Hasn’t quite reached the promise land yet since deciding to move away from Arsenal because of impatience. Currently we have Akpom looking very hungry. There is also Iwobi, Adelaide (less we forget Sanogo is somewhere). Bennacer on the wing is also a prospect, there… Read more »


Too long matey. You’re trying too hard.


Really. He has got it right? Show me the titles. Far too much reliance on youth over the years who simply have not made it. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and buy established talent.

Lurd Ishanovic

Nice comment. Don’t know why it got thumbed down


Looks like we are stocking up the youth teams – is Wenger building a solid foundation for his successor (unlike a certain red nosed bully) or for his extension?!


Both! 😀

Goone's Farm

Only problem would be finding a successor who’s as willing and capable of bringing youth players through to the first team. One look at the Chelski cunts shows how useless a well-stocked youth team can be when your manager isn’t willing to play any of them.


Cream rises to the top….so surely the more competition and talent In The mix….The better end products the youth system will produce?

Mr Drey

I’ve seen Nwakali play a number of times, he’s got an eye for a good pass, he can make surging runs and score goals as well. Untop of that, he’s very calm with the ball; a very good thing for a guy of his age. Looks like an all round midfielder, I see him making it to the first team in a couple of years, he’s that good.

Aboriginal Arsenal

We have an abundance of young talent at the club. Our cup it runneth over. No-one has mentioned Jon Toral, the ying to Hector’s yang. He has been in great form for Brum. Did you see that 25-yard volley? Maitland-Niles, at 18, has been a regular at Ipswich. He can play dcm, cm, lm, rm and probs would make a quality rb. Crowley is a gem of a player. He needs to rediscover last season’s form. He had some good moments at Barnsley and is remembered fondly by their fans. Times have changed. The Cocquelin story shows players can keep… Read more »


Lets not turn Maitland-niles into an RB though. He’s versatile in many positions so can be a good sub option and even otherwise, he’s good enough to challenge for the right wing spot. His competition would obviously be Campbell, Oxlade chamberlain and Gnabry. If he plays the left midfield position well, he can be the first backup to Alexis. Our backup there is Theo, completely ineffective as a winger.

Aboriginal Arsenal

Theo did okay on the wing against Man Citeh.

Aboriginal Arsenal

Chuba Akpom bagged a hatty for Hull yday. Hayden’s developing well there.

Akpom’s under-8s team mate Alex Iwobi looked sharp for the first team against Burnley.

Then there’s ‘The Jeff’…

We have a hell of a crop on the frínges.

Could they mirror the late eighties’ homegrown stars like Adams, Keown, Rocastle, Thomas, Merson, Campbell?

We could become the English Ajax.


Slowly killed on the bench. The Arsenal way.

Kay Tyma

It should have been a trio…Victor Osimhen…the top scorer for the tournament…the guy is a beast of a striker…happy we pulled the deal for those two though


I’ve no problem with us having a bunch of promising players in the same position because we’ve all seen before that those who are good at 16, 17 aren’t always good at 20, 21 and so having more just improves our odds… but I do wonder why we hardly ever seem to sign young defenders (compared to the attacking positions). Any thoughts on why that is? Less eye-catching/harder to spot at a young age?


Hector Bellerin springs to mind


Nwakali has shades of a young Patrick Vieira. He may nominally be an attacking midfielder but he played quite deeply a lot of the time for Nigera at the under-17s and he’s got that same lanky frame and amazing ability to burst forward.

People will say he is like Toure but Toure is a wanker so I would prefer to compare him to someone much better.

No pressure, mate.


I have watched both boys play football and believe me without any shade of doubt we have unearthed a gem in Samuel Chukwueze, we don’t have his type in the club now, good left foot with blistering pace with that ball and dribbling ability not matched by any in the club bar our one time player Alexander Help. He is every intch Messi like and faster Nwakali plays with calmness and guile that makes him far better than anyone his age and I am sure we have gotten a player we will be glad not to missed out on. The… Read more »


How does this whole thing work blogs with Youth prospects under the age of 18. I thought fifa banned grabbing players under the age of 18 unless their families were moving to the country ect ect.

If one of these lads is 16? Wont that open the door for potential transfer bans for us?

Apologies about the ignorance if im completely wrong on that front.

Aboriginal Arsenal

Good point.

Jeorge, can you clarify the situation for us?



Am happy for my fellow Nigerian and I sure promise they’ll do well …up arsenal

Naija Gunner

I guess we are secured for the future to some extent

matty t.

Age thing shouldn’t be a problem. They’re probably about 25!

DE Gooner

They passed MRI tests that are required for under 17 tournaments nowadays so they are not 25. They are kids.

matty t.

I was just kidding. Some people have a sense of humour failure on here.

Texas Tanaka

Yes, you.

matty t.

That’s right, because I’m the only person who’s ever made a joke relating to the fact that Nigerian players have not always been the same age as stated on their official papers. Lighten up.


Apart from the Mexican team, these boys made all their opponents at the U17 world cup look bad. They dispatched the Brazil team in 25minutes, there’s no doubt they can compete and break into the first team.

N B Oli

Very exciting indeed. Made all the more enjoyable as we are not desparate for senior squad signings at the moment, so pleased to see us working on the future. An awful lot of young talent on the books – I hope Iwobi and, next season, Akpom are the next to make their mark

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