There has been a drastic change in the type of centre backs plying their trade with Arsenal over the last fifteen years or so. Whilst the likes of Tony Adams, Martin Keown and the returning Sol Campbell based their game on power and physicality, the new generation of Thomas Vermaelen and William Gallas like to burst forward and hold a considerable goal scoring threat. Combine these two very different types of centre back and the result is Kyle Bartley.
The young centre back was born in the Manchester, the city of Arsenal’s arch rivals and began his career with Bolton Wanderers. Bartley impressed with the Trotters academy and attracted interest from Arsene Wenger back in 2007. The centre back eventually made the switch to the Emirates and in his two years with the north London club he has looked like a stunning signing.
The 18 year old is a technically gifted for a centre back and at 6ft 3inches tall, is an imposing figure. Needless to say Bartley possess aerial ability and even the strongest of strikers would struggle to overpower the young Englishman. Bartley appeared in all eight games of the F.A Youth Cup for the Gunners academy and acted as somewhat of a stalwart at the back. In true Arsenal fashion, Bartley likes to burst forward and showed his threat in the final third with goals in both the quarter and semi finals of the competition. The centre back was a key figure in a competition for Arsenal and the Gunners were clearly head and shoulders above all other sides in the tournament.
Bartley’s performances for the youth side have not only seen the youngster promoted to the reserves but the centre back has been made captain by manager Neil Banfield. Banfield has highlighted the defender as a hot prospect for the future and believes he has what it takes to be a leader. The manager said:
“We’re trying to develop leaders and I think Kyle has got the qualities that he can become a leader in a few years. I think as well that some others might go on loan so we like to have a lad here as captain who we know will be here for a while. I think Kyle has worked extremely hard. He has grown as a man and he has grown as a defender too. He is working extremely hard at his game and his performances now are reaping the rewards of hard work.”
Having also appeared for the first team in the UEFA Champions League fixture against Olympiakos, the future certainly looks bright for the centre back. Maybe he can learn a thing or two from the recently returned Sol Campbell because after all, the 35 year old was one of the finest defenders Arsenal have had in recent years.