Thursday, April 25, 2024

Trio sign deals as Bould takes first session with under-23s

Arsenal have confirmed that 18-year-old goalkeeper James Hillson has signed a permanent contract after joining on loan midway through last season.

While he didn’t actually get a chance to feature in the league for the under-18s, he’s been rewarded for his performances in training and is expected to provide further competition between the sticks at youth level.

Two other youngsters, attacking midfielder Ben Cottrell and left-back Joel Lopez have also signed their first professional contracts. Both players were key for the under-18s as they won the title last season.

Elsewhere, the under-23 squad – including the lesser spotted Kelechi Nwakali – got their first taste of life under Steve Bould yesterday when they returned for pre-season training.

Bould will coach the group this season as he and Freddie Ljungberg, promoted to the first team set-up, look to help outstanding Academy graduates make the grade at the Emirates.

As our resident youth expert, Jeorge Bird, mentioned on Twitter, some of the youngsters – those involved in internationals during the summer were not back. Others could well be promoted to the first team.

Academy director Per Mertesacker, Bouldy’s assistant Ryan Garry and head of coach and player development Marcel Lucassen were amongst those keeping an eye on proceedings.

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John C

Can someone explain to me why our youth players are described as outstanding when they haven’t won anything?

If Chelsea’s youth players, whom have won 5 consecutive FA youth cups struggle to get first team game time, what makes people think our lot are anywhere near the required level?

Inspector norse

Development is more important than winning. Also chelski chooses not to use their youth players and have been punished for it. Kevin De Bruyne ?

John C

That’s not an answer to my question and there’s scant evidence that’s true as the 2 players that regularly feature in our first eleven, AI and AMN barely look like premier league players to me, let alone one’s that’ll help us get back into the champions league.

I’ll ask the question again, what makes people think our current U23’s are good enough? What separates this lot to Wilshere, Gibbs, Frimpong, Bendtner, and Lupoli, all of whom won the youth cup and shone at age group level?

Thomas b

You don’t think AMN look like a premier league player? The guy has everything needed to be a great player. Even playing out of position he has done well. When we played him as a Def midfielder against man u Pogba was totally owned, and this is where Niles should play.

John C

Sorry but did you watch the Europa league final?!? He was brutally exposed as out of his depth, all 4 goals came down his side.

As for your assertion he’s a DM, why isn’t he played there if that’s his position? Is it because a more experienced player is in his way? No, Guendouzi is younger than him and even less experienced, it can only be because the manager doesn’t think him good enough.

Le Jim

Because two seasons ago we had no backup for Hector, and last season our only backup was a dinosaur. He’s not a natural RB.


I didn’t know that just one game defines a player.

A question for you, are you a troll or just someone who has unrealistic expectations?

John C

Also De Bruyne didn’t win the youth cup with Chelsea

Inspector norse

First of all who has described them as outstanding ? Even though they have won something.
And If it is true that Kevin De Bruyne won nothing with chelski u18/23 that should prove my point.
Also we dont really know if players are ready or ever will be if we dont play them. All of our youth players are very promising just a very few of them will make it, thats the sad truth.

John C

They were described as outstanding in the article above and no, we don’t have to play them to see if they’re ready, the coaches on the training ground can see that.

The problem i have is this is clearly a PR spin by the club to save money. They’re not outstanding, in fact they’re not even the best in the country at their age group, they’re cheap.

Inspector norse

Those who follow the youth development at our great club know that at this moment we have an outstanding group of talented players. Best we have had since Wenger pretty much made us a club that used many resources to become a youth developing club, that use many resources to develop youth players. This group is the result of that investment. If u want to make it a conpiracy by the club to fool us thats fine but i dont see it that way. We do have extremely talented youth right now and they obviously are among the best in… Read more »


Who are the outstanding under 23 for Chelsea that are so much better then the youth players of arsenal? The ones that are definitely going to make it big and make everyone forget about hazard? All those youths that are going to replace the current Chelsea first team and bring them consecutive quadruples and undefeated seasons because they are all sooooo much better. Name them please.

John C

I can’t name any players in the Chelsea U23 that will replace Hazard but then have won 5 of the last 6 youth cups!! Which brings me back to the question as to why anyone thinks our lot are good enough?

Inspector norse

I have seen them play.


Who has described them as outstanding? I’ve only ever seen people say that they are promising. As for never winning anything, the U23’s won the league the season before last, came 2nd last season despite Ljungberg losing over half the squad to loans and the Europa League. The U18’s won their division title last season too.

John C

“… look to help outstanding Academy graduates…”

From the article above

All the best U23 are loaned out from all clubs, that’s not unique to Arsenal every team would have been affected by that so that’s no mitigation.

Youth player’s rarely make the step up, i’m just getting worried with the current clamour to populate our first team with a group of youngsters that don’t even seem the best in the country at age group level.

Inspector norse

But since they have won something, arent they outstanding ?

John C


Inspector norse

That seemed to be your criteria, i think they are.

John C

It wasn’t, but i’m still not getting an answer to my question as to why this particular group will make the step up that numerous others haven’t.

Inspector norse

Most wont make the step up. But we have to play those considered most “ready” and many of them probably wont make it. Thats just the way it is.
Should we not have youth development ? Are there no hope ? Is it naive to think we could develop younger players into first team players ? Should we just give up ? Whats your point ?


This report was co-written by mystic mog (mystic meg is tied down to Rupert Murdoch publications). Mystic Mog told Dave, who told blogs that these youngsters were the “super duper amazball footballers that will lead us to champ league victory next year while helping us win socceraid”. Unfortunately blogs was a bit drunk and the next day he only recalled the word “outstanding”. If u don’t believe me then go to Shepard’s bush market this Saturday at 2 pm and ask. Also for £50 a month, all the bad vibes can be prayed away from you, so you prosper. Make… Read more »

Post January Blip

John, you’re over thinking this mate. By definition ‘outstanding’ means to stand out. If players stand out among their peers in the ARSENAL u23s, the plan is to help them make the grade in the first team. It doesn’t mean they’ve already made it, but that they’re ready for the next challenge.


Our young players are labelled as talented and promising. No one is thinking we have a 30+ goal scorer for the PL at the age of 17, but if they show promise and perform well in the youth leagues then Arsenal will give them further opportunities to develop into first team football. So any potential talents are exciting as they’ll improve over the years with the exposure they get to first team football.


Ask the person who wrote the article!


To help outstanding academy graduates, means those academy graduates who are outstanding will be helped to get into the first team. It is possible to have a bad team with a few outstanding players. It is these outstanding players that will be helped to get into the first team! How difficult is it ?

Joe S

Development rather than winning is a lot more important in Youth Football.
I remember reading that when Cryuff was the Ajax youth team coach, they would suffer heavy losses because everyone was playing in different positions week to week.

Dave Roberts

Arsenal won the U-18 South title in 2019. That ain’t chopped meat, you know?


Does Mertesacker take charge of training sessions, or is his role mostly office based?


I think the young players would relate to Per more than a 60 year old Bould. Who seems very old school


I also think so, I’m surprised we didn’t let Bould go in the summer. Maybe Per is checking if it’s working or not, Bould is certainly very different to Freddie who really seemed to improve the players while having a good time. There doesn’t look to be anything lighthearted about Steve Bould, and I really can’t see him relating to that age group at all. The days of bossy old farts is over, modern management has moved on from that, thank goodness.


As Arsene use to say, ” everyone thinks they have the prettiest wife”

Plenty of talent at other clubs coming through.

We’ve been decent with iwobi, Bellerin, AMN, plus Nelson, Bielik, keepers should be close to first squad and Saka , Willock, Nketiah look promising.

But we have to deliver more. Martinelli (from fourth tier Brazilian league) is an Academy signing at best at this point)

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