Arsenal‘s youth academy is one of the best in the business and both Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe are shining examples of that.
The homegrown pair have gone from being mere Hale End prospects to England internationals in the space of just a couple of years, largely thanks to the clear path to the Gunners’ first-team under manager Mikel Arteta.
We got to witness another glimpse of that before the recent break when the Spaniard handed a record-breaking debut to 15-year-old prodigy Ethan Nwaneri.
The schoolboy midfielder became the youngest-ever player to feature in the Premier League after Arteta sent him on as a substitute in the closing moments of their 3-0 win over Brentford in west London.
Although he’s not the only young talent to receive such high acclaim in recent weeks as Nwaneri’s U18s teammate Omari Benjamin was named in the Guardian’s ‘Next Generation’ list for 2022.
He follows the likes of Reiss Nelson (2016), the aforementioned Saka (2018) and Charlie Patino (2020) to have been named in the exciting showcase, all of whom have gone onto feature for the senior squad.
Both Nwaneri and Benjamin have a true potential to become the next Saka and Smith Rowe, given the pair have already struck up a fine understanding together at U18 level, as described by the Guardian’s Nick Ames.
The journalist has also described the Welsh 16-year-old as ‘dangerous’ from the left-flank and as having ‘exceptional speed and close control along with explosive finishing ability.’
Benjamin has been in fine form already this term, providing Jack Wilshere’s team with four goals from three outings, including a hat-trick against Spurs’ U18s, as per Transfermarkt.
In a similar fashion to the aforementioned Gunners duo, Benjamin is primarily a winger (like Saka) and Nwaneri is best deployed through the middle (like Smith Rowe), so this Hale End duo could genuinely be the next big thing to come from Arsenal’s famed setup.
Youth expert and journalist Jeorge Bird has tipped the teenager for big things, too, claiming that Benjamin is “prolific” and is “a good prospect,” whilst he has also described Nwaneri as “very skilful” with “excellent vision.”
It’s no wonder the young pair are hitting the headlines around north London this term, so in a few years’ time, Arteta could well unearth the next Saka and Smith Rowe in the exciting Hale End youth talents.
AND in other news, Arsenal handed potential injury boost ahead of Spurs, it’s great news for Arteta…