Charlie Patino could be one step closer to making his long-awaited Arsenal debut after Mikel Arteta suffered a devastating blow to his midfield before the international break.
With Granit Xhaka facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines, the 17-year-old gem – who is widely expected to be Hale End’s ‘next big thing’ – may be handed an opportunity to impress in the first team in the coming months.
The Gunners have seen plenty of young talent develop in recent times, namely the likes of Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka, who have become two key starters under the Spaniard.
There is a lot to suggest that Patino is next in line, particularly as he could bring shades of Cesc Fabregas back to the Emirates Stadium.
The emerging talent has drawn inspiration from a trio of Arsenal’s former Spanish stars, ranging from the aforementioned Fabregas to Santi Cazorla and the current boss, so it’s no wonder that Barcelona have taken a look at his skillset before.
But that’s hardly a surprise given his father was born in the country.
Patino will turn 18 later this month but he has already been a frequent presence during first-team training, which only goes to show why he could be gifted a golden chance in the absence of Xhaka.
There’s certainly a place up for grabs and he should be unleashed, as a result.
According to Gunners scout Brian Stapleton, Patino is easily one of the best and most talented prospects he’s ever seen. “Of all the years I’ve been scouting, he’s the best kid I’ve ever seen,” he said (via Goal) before later adding:
“Sean O’Connor discovered Jack Wilshere and he said to me that Charlie is the best player who has ever walked through the doors at Hale End. The kid has got so much potential, but he’s not there yet.”
Meanwhile, the club’s former head of recruitment Steve Morrow described him as a “special talent“.
Given his obvious links to Spain and the fact that he’s modelled his game on so many technically-gifted players, Arteta would well find Arsenal’s next Fabregas in the teenage sensation.
Patino is likely to be the next name to follow Smith Rowe and Saka into the senior side.