Arsenal have three talented centre-backs on the fringes of the first-team, with Daniel Ballard, Zech Medley and Harry Clarke having trained regularly with Mikel Arteta’s squad in recent weeks.
The problem that the trio face, in the short term at least, is that Arsenal have an abundance of senior centre-backs on their books, meaning that it could prove difficult for any youngsters to break through in that position.
At present, Sokratis, Rob Holding, David Luiz, Shkodran Mustafi, Pablo Mari, Calum Chambers and William Saliba are all in the first-team squad, while Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac have also been used in the left sided centre-back position when Arteta has deployed a back three. Konstantinos Mavropanos, meanwhile, is on loan at Stuttgart but recently signed a new deal with Arsenal. This is all without even considering any possible new signings.
Producing centre-backs isn’t something that has come easily to Arsenal in recent years, but now there are at least some encouraging prospects in that position. As well as Ballard, Clarke and Medley, the likes of Alex Kirk and Mazeed Ogungbo have impressed for the U18s and Taylor Foran, another player with much potential, recently signed scholarship terms.
It does, though, have to be taken into consideration that Mustafi, Chambers and Mari will miss the start of the season through injury.
In a year or so the situation may look slightly better for the young centre-backs, as it isn’t guaranteed that the likes of Luiz, Mustafi and Sokratis will still be at the club then.
The youngsters may, however, have to be rather patient in the short term. Medley, for instance, would benefit from a loan spell, while Ballard could be sent out on temporary transfer again after his stay with Swindon Town was cruelly cut short by injury.
Clarke, who has yet to make a senior appearance, would perhaps benefit from remaining at Arsenal for now and he could feature in the Europa League depending on the situation with other players.
It will certainly be interesting to see how Arsenal manage the development of Ballard, Medley and Clarke given the competition that they face.