Arsenal boast one of the Premier League’s most impressive academies, with it’s alumni including the likes of Tony Adams, Ashley Cole, Jack Wilshere and ermm… Jay Bothroyd.
Likewise, investing time, faith and money into talented young players has been a huge part of Arsene Wenger’s philosophy since he turned up in north London way back in 1996.
So with that in mind, who are the latest Gunners starlets we should be keeping a beady eye on? Or perhaps more importantly, which should Arsene Wenger be considering in his long term plans?
Well, here’s the FIVE Football FanCast recommends, so without further ado…
Remember the name Gedion Zelalem – the 17 year-old is easily the most hyped and anticipated youngster in Arsenal’s academy set-up.
Indeed, Arsene Wenger’s already billed the young midfielder as a ‘great player‘ for the future, whilst the Guardian’s David Hynter labelled him as ‘the next Cesc Fabregas‘ back in January. Here’s a clip of the midfielder in action:
He shares the former Gunners skipper’s extraordinary vision and passing range, and also comes with a seemingly unbreakable calmness in possession.
Premier League football may still be some way off for the prodigy playmaker – he’s slight in frame and measures at just 5 foot 11.
But Berlin-born, Ethiopian in heritage and having grown up in America, where Wenger discovered him, Zelalem already has Team USA and Germany fighting over his future international services, which alone speaks volumes about his enormous potential.
Many expected Francis Coquelin’s first team breakthrough at Arsenal to happen a lot sooner, having originally made his competitive debut for the Gunners way back in 2008.
Since, the former France U21 has amassed 21 outings in the Premier League and suffered rather lukewarm loan spells at FC Lorient and Frieburg, making just 16 league appearances throughout an entire campaign with the latter side.
But he’s currently on loan with Charlton Athletic in the Championship and shown great promise in his inaugural three outings, as detailed below:
That could convince Arsene Wenger to give the 23 year-old some starting opportunities upon his Emirates return in January, especially considering Arsenal’s current squad desperately lacks a natural holding midfielder. Here’s a clip of Coquelin in action:
Arsenal have already invested £200k in young midfielder Dan Crowley, utilising the privileges of the Elite Player Performance Plan to cherry-pick him from Aston Villa’s academy.
He certainly shares the England international’s blend of feistiness and eloquence. Here’s a clip of the 16 year-old in action:
Even Roy Hodgson’s taken note of Crowley’s progress, officially welcoming him to St. George’s Park last November. How many youngsters get that kind of treatment from the England gaffer?
The teenage midfielder’s Premier League debut may still be some way off, but he’s unquestionably one to watch for the future and a player Wenger will have in his thoughts.
Arsenal fans haven’t been too impressed with Carl Jenkinson since Arsenal signed him from Charlton Athletic in summer 2011, at the cost of £1million.
Indeed, the vast majority of his Gunners displays have ranged from average to awful but the right-back is still just 22 years of age and learning his trade.
Furthermore, he’s put in some promising performances on loan at West Ham this season, as shown below, with the East London side currently a point ahead of the Emirates outfit in the Premier League table:
It could be the consistent first team exposure the one-cap England international needs to become an Arsenal regular upon his return next summer.
Boasting the height and strength of a natural centre-half, Jenkinson could be the perfect remedy to the Gunners’ worryingly slim defensive depth, without the need for Arsene Wenger to further invest in the transfer market. Here’s a clip of the 6 foot 1 defender in action:
Despite netting this absolute stunner against Manchester United whilst on loan at Olympiacos last season:
And bagging one goal and one assist in five World Cup outings for Costa Rica over the summer – including this set-up against Italy:
…young winger-forward Joel Campbell just hasn’t got a look-in at the Emirates this season, seeing just 54 minutes’ worth of action in the Premiership and Champions League combined.
The South American has recently taken to Youtube to deny rumours that he’s growing frustrated by a lack of game-time in north London:
But with the likes of Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mesut Ozil to contend with for a spot out wide, a January loan move seems the most likely scenario.