It was already clear that there were going to be some alterations within the Arsenal academy coaching set-up this summer, with U18s coach Frans De Kat poised to leave in the near future.
Now reports have emerged that academy manager Andries Jonker and U16 coach Jan Van Loon could be dismissed as the club seek to make significant changes at youth level.
If Jonker was to be judged purely on results over the past couple of seasons, then perhaps a case could be made for him to let go, with Arsenal having finished bottom of the lowest division in the U18 Premier League last campaign, while they have registered some uninspiring results at that level this time around.
Matters have been a little better with the other sides- the U21s are on the cusp of the promotion, while Arsenal reached the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup- but the main focus of an academy, of course, is on development and building for the future, and in that regard Jonker can be seen to have made some significant steps forward since his appointment in 2014.
Going into this season it was clear that Arsenal’s youth set-up needed revitalising, and Jonker acted accordingly as he sanctioned deals for some standout talents, including Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Donyell Malen.
Several homegrown youngsters have developed well under Jonker’s guidance, with Chris Willock having thrived at U21 level, while striker Edward Nketiah has been in excellent goalscoring form for the U18s this campaign.
If Arsenal are to have a long-term vision in place for their academy then they can’t expect to achieve those aims by frequently changing their academy chiefs. Terry Burton moved on after only a short spell in charge, and, if these reports are to be believed, Jonker could well be gone before the start of next season.
It would spell the end of the Dutch revolution at Arsenal if Jonker, De Kat and Van Loon were all to depart in the same summer, and would raise serious questions about the club’s approach to youth development.
If such a scenario did occur then it is difficult to envisage who would replace Jonker. An individual familiar with the club would be ideal, but Arsenal need to be making an appointment with the long-term picture in mind.
Kwame Ampadu is set to be named as the club’s new U18 coach, with Thierry Henry working alongside him. Beyond that, however, the future is rather uncertain as far as Arsenal’s youth coaching staff are concerned.
Some stability is needed, but at present Arsenal’s youth system appears devoid of direction.