Arsenal have found it difficult to produce centre-backs for an extended period of time, but in recent years there have been some talented players in that position emerging from the club’s academy.
The likes of Daniel Ballard, Mark McGuinness and Harry Clarke have all gained plenty of experience out on loan this season and there is a further crop of young centre-backs who are making an impact at youth level.
One of them is Zach Awe, an England youth international who has been involved in first-team training at times this season.
Awe has demonstrated his versatility by featuring at right-back and in midfield, but it is at the heart of the defence where he has played the majority of his games for the U18s, often featuring alongside Taylor Foran.
A tall player, Awe is impressive technically and has good tactical awareness. Like many young defenders he is somewhat error prone, but he has demonstrated significant signs of improvement this season.
Arsenal rate Awe highly, as demonstrated by the fact that they tied him to a professional contract at the earliest possible opportunity.
The 17-year-old has already had a fleeting taste of U23s football, and it is expected that he will be more frequently involved at that level next season, while still featuring for the U18s at times.
First-team involvement is still some way off for Awe, but he is heading in the right direction and has developed well this campaign.