Arsenal Managing Director Vinai Venkatesham says that promoting players to the first team from the Academy is a key part of the club’s strategy for the future.

For a club with a reportedly restricted transfer budget, promotions provide a cheap way of adding players and depth to the squad, but he also wants to ensure that the first team has players who have grown up with the club and understand what it means to pull on that red and white shirt.

The 37 year old spoke alongside Head of Football Raul Sanllehi, and outlined their hopes for the Academy under the auspices of former captain Per Mertesacker.

“If the money and revenue its the fuel and the football side is the engine, then we need that engine to be operating as efficiently as possible,” he said. “So every pound we’re spending has the absolute maximum impact.

“There are lots of initiatives that we have to ensure that the football side of our club is as efficient as possible. For example, the Academy. We want to make sure we continue to promote players into our first team, and that they make a real impact.

“It’s important because it’s obvious financially efficient, but we also want players in the first team dressing room who have grown up with the club and who really know what it means to represent Arsenal.”

Venkatesham sounded confident that the right man is in place to head up the development and education of young talent at the club.

“We think we’re in a good place with the Academy,” he continued. “We’ve got a great leader in Per Mertesacker, we feel like we’ve got a good group of youngsters – some of whom have been promoted into the first team squad this season. The 18s and U23s have had great seasons, so the Academy is a hugely important part.

“We’ve got to manage that progression from the Academy to first team sensibly. Should a player play a bit longer with the U23s? Should they go straight to the first team? Or should they go out on loan?

“We’ve done quite a lot of that this season with Emi Martinez, Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith Rowe, and I think as we look forward we’ll see more of those development opportunities on loan to make sure we’re giving players the playing time in carefully selected clubs that we think can help them on their journey to the first team.”

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Double98
Double98

At least he knows the names of some of the youth prospects.. Gazidis always struggled beyond Ramsay Özil and Thierry Bergkamp.

I’d rather fail with kids than thread this stagnant water with Mustafi and Xhaka.

Tim
Tim

There’s a certain irony in pointing out how important it is to know Arsenal player names and then lead with ‘Ramsay’.

Double98
Double98

🙂 damn autocorrect

Martin
Martin

It’s Ramsey and Xhaka is a key player and certainly far from being stagnant

Devlin
Devlin

Gazidis? The same guy who restructured our academy and basically made it what it is today? That Gazidis? The hate for the man is so blinding, people create ficticious flaws in him.

No wonder he left, I would if I was blamed for everything and never given credit.

Faisal Narrage
Faisal Narrage

The guy was far from perfect and definitely corporate slimy when talking.

But I do think the anti-Gaz is largely filled by blogs, who make it seem like he was just a cancer and did nothing of long-term value for the club.

Now people even absolve Wenger of all bad decisions and say it was Gazidis.

C.B.
C.B.

Apart from Jack Wilshere, how many have come through from the academy and had big careers at Arsenal in the last 20 years? (ignoring Cesc, Walcott, Holding and others that grew up elsewhere).

I’m struggling to think of many.

Faisal Narrage
Faisal Narrage

Tbf our academy wasn’t that great then. The changes that were made over a decade ago, the expected fruits are being born out now, so we really should be taking advantage of it.

I’m all for this. I’d rather watch the likes of Nelson, Saka, Eddie, Smith-Rowe, Beilik, Martinez, AMN, Bellerin, etc than the likes of Mustafi or Xhaka. I’d like to see a new project similar to Ajax.

Jalex
Jalex

No thanks.

I’m sorry but didn’t we try this already? I feel a strong sense of deja vu. The whole point of going through ‘Project Youth’ was so that we could build a great core team and playing style throughout the club before adding top quality players when the money arrived.

When the money arrived we spent poorly and ended up with an imbalanced squad.

So now surely we should be aiming for players who are a bit more established but with potential to improve and those that fit in with Emery’s ideal playing style? I’m thinking the 22-25 age range, to try to smooth out our cracks.

Not teenagers again. The Ajax model seems to work as it’s working now once every 10 yrs or so. Not something we can rely on surely!

Yes, slowly integrate the next-gen into the squad but please let’s not expect them to replace our first teamers!

Double98
Double98

if we can win 5 titles and get to Champions League Semis and sell half our team for 300mill every 10 years – i’ll settle on the Ajax Model

We can not compete at the 22-25 year old market. we must attract young players with opportunity and give supper star players a final payday.
our team should be 70% 18-23 year old home grown and 30% 26-32 year olds.

I am pissed off being pissed on by the bottling Mustafi, Xhaka etc. I am fed up hoping monreals or koscielny’s legs don’t fail. I hate watching our team lose arm wrestles with mid to lower table fodder.
George Graham and Alex Ferguson revitalised aging teams full of good time charlies with youth and Emery should do the same.

Faisal Narrage
Faisal Narrage

It’s also odd how people are mocking Project Youth; even though they regularly got us into the Champions League, and came within a whisker of winning the CL and then later the PL. Our last true great league side was the 07/08 team.

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

Project youth was hamstrung by our inability to fill gaps in the squad from outside due to lack of funds

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

Also the injury gods were not kind

Faisal Narrage
Faisal Narrage

First off “Project Youth” doesn’t indicate all teenagers. Heck the last time we did it, it wasn’t with academy prospects.

And the whole “a bit more established with potential to improve” is exactly what I’m advocating and also what we did. I’m pretty sure the likes of; Hleb, Rosicky, Nasri, Adebayor, Sagna, etc weren’t teenagers when they came here under the same project youth.

C.B.
C.B.

https://www.planetfootball.com/nostalgia/where-are-they-now-arsenals-2008-09-fa-youth-cup-winners/ I thought we’d see a lot come through from this team, was similarly optimistic to the current batch you mention above. I’d love most of the above to come through but realistically I could see 2 or 3 at most(ignoring Bellerin from Barcelona) eg like Wilshere and Coquelin from the list on the link.

Faisal Narrage
Faisal Narrage

Not being biased or using hindsight, but I’d say our current crop were more talented than that bunch. Of that bunch, the legitimate talents were;

Jack Wilshere – Injuries likely caused by overuse too early at an age

Kyle Bartley – Tbf was a regular PL player and likely to be back,

Henri Lansbury – Yeah this one is a tough one. Though he didn’t make it with us, I’m still surprised he didn’t make a decent PL career. Bit of a Championship legend though.

Coquelin – Playing for a CL-level Spanish team. Not too shabby.

JET – The most talented waster of all.

Other mentions go to Chesney, whom I believe was on loan at the time. No.1 to the best team in Italy and successor to the greater keeper of our generation. Not too shabby.

Isaac Haydon – Never got a chance with us, but established himself as a certi PL-level player. Probably could’ve been a decent squad option for us.

In hindsight, that generation wasn’t so bad after all.

Tim
Tim

Fuck all

Double98
Double98

Iwobi, Bellerin, Maitland-Niles to name three from the current first team squad.

Double98
Double98

20 years stretches back to Ashley Cole, szczesny, Gibbs, Coquelin

gee
gee

Signing a player @ 15 still means you have a lot to learn before making pros. Big career is very arguable.
Think Stuart Taylor has Prem and FA cup and Jack has 2 FA cups – Who had a bigger career? yet i bet few fans remember Stuart Taylor.

I think getting into the 1st team is success for youth development.
If they have successful careers with us after all, wining trophies, then that is a bonus.

prob missed out a few –

Home grown – Ashley Cole, Stuart Taylor, Jack Wilshere, Justin Hoyte, Ansley Maitland-Niles, Joe willock, Ries Nelson, Smith Rowe, Chris Willock, Afobe, (Guy that had a heart attack playing for Bolton) Muamba – etc

Bought – Clichy signed 16 yrs old, Fran Merida – signed 15 yrs old, Alialdiare signed 15 yr old, Ramsey 16 yr old, Cesc, Coquelin 15\16 , Serge Ganabri 15 yr old. – etc

Tas_Gunner
Tas_Gunner

🤣🤣

Glen Helders left foot
Glen Helders left foot

He’s 37!!! Dear God he must of had a hard life

Con
Con

The Austerity Years Part 2

ozenal
ozenal

So loan them out and increase their value to be sold later if they dont make it.

Santori
Santori

Get Reiss into the first team before he has his head turned like Gnabry.

We will still require one more on the wing in addition to Nelson and Iwobi but critical we firm up on Nelson now.

We have a decent crop first with Iwobi and Bellerin carrying on from Jack era.

Then Nelson, Smith-Rowe, AMN.

Potentials Nketiah, Willock, Saka…

Not to mention Macey and Martinez between the sticks possibly.

They need to be reinforced with experienced technical players.

Jean Ralphio
Jean Ralphio

Would like to see Smith Rowe in midfield in that Ramsey role.