Positional changes are commonplace at youth level but few people, if any, could have foreseen the transformation that Arsenal youngster Ben Sheaf has made this campaign.
The 18-year-old joined the Gunners from West Ham United two years ago as a central-midfielder, and, although he has filled in at right-back on some occasions, Sheaf has mainly played just in front of the back four.
This campaign, however, Sheaf has made the switch to centre-back, and, despite some initial teething problems, he has adapted extremely well to his new position, to the extent that he is keeping Kristopher Da Graca, a natural defender out of the team.
A good passer of the ball, Sheaf is also capable of making precisely-timed interceptions and has forged a formidable partnership with Krystian Bielik at the heart of the defence for Arsenal U23s.
Bielik, of course, is another prospect who has made the switch from being a defensive-midfielder to a centre-back, but, unlike Sheaf, the Pole had previously played in the latter position prior to ending up their permanently.
As far as Sheaf is concerned, the erstwhile England youth international may not be one of the most hyped youngsters in the Arsenal academy set-up, but he is certainly one of the most highly-regarded by manager Arsene Wenge, who called the prospect up for this week’ EFL Cup tie against Reading.
Sheaf, who had previously been on the bench against Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest, didn’t enter the field against Reading but he is edging ever closer to making his senior debut for the club.
For now, though, Sheaf is continuing to perform for Arsenal at U23 level and may well go on loan at some point next season in order to further his development.
Anyone know his height? The info I found online showed 170cm which is a bit short for a CB for my tastes. I wonder if he’s playing there just to learn a bit more of the defensive game before going back into midfield.
Well, Sagna isn’t particularly tall, but I can’t recall him losing a duel. Even at cb where he also played on rare occasion. Actually, Sagna was a monster defender for us and I was also gobsmacked over his ability. Anyway, good on Ben Sheaf. If he has caught the bosses attention then he must be good.
Some sites say 178cm; others 185cm. AFC doesn’t say.
I think he’s 185cm, can see he’s about the same height as Jenkinson in the U23 vs Southampton
Given the competition in midfield it may be the best for his prospects at Arsenal that he moves back. It is an interesting one
And..when it works its absolutely awesome!We get fucking good ball playing centre-halfs!
And a centre-half that can score long-range screamers!
I’ve seen this kid in Arsenal youtube videos. He’s got the maddest skills amongst the prospects. Still surprised he’s ended up at centre back
maybe he’s just another Koscielny
Yeah, I wonder if Wenger called him up as a substitution for center-milfielder or centre-back.
looks like a young Kos in interviews, good sign
It would be great to have a stat sheet at the beginning of these articles, age, height, appearances at each level.
with the best centre back pairing in the league at the moment and Chambers and Holding coming through as very strong and very young back up and in the not too distant future hopefully the development of Sheaf and Bielik. things look very positive at the back for years to come. and id welcome Per signing on for a little longer in a squad role where these can learn from him. great competition and the best will emerge stronger and ready for the job. CB sorted