A quiet afternoon he might have had when Arsenal beat a young Brentford team 4-0 in a behind closed doors friendly a couple of days ago but if reports suggesting Bernd Leno is planning to walk away from Arsenal next summer for free are true, our young Englishman’s footballing life might soon be busy. Very busy. Again, if true about our number one keeper, Mikel Arteta has a decision to make. Play Aaron Ramsdale now, or not?
In my opinion, it was obvious once Arsenal paid big bucks for Ramsdale, he wasn’t just going to sit on the bench, he was ready for a fight to oust the German. Maybe Leno knows that too and isn’t up for a battle, a battle he might not be confident of winning. For now though, Arsenal have both keepers and it’s a long season ahead.
The friendly fixture saw Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes return to the team. For the Brazilian, it was his second run out after injury which is great for the team. Our other Gabriel got minutes too, as did AMN who partnered Mo Elneny in the midfield. Charlie Patino replaced Elneny after half an hour and by all accounts, played really well. Omari Hutchinson, another academy player who was given twenty minutes with the big boys.
Charlie Patino, Omari Hutchinson and Kido Taylor-Hart – Arsenal’s next batch who are expected to have a big future ahead of them. But of course, just ahead of them are players who’re currently out on loan getting game time, maturing and hopefully learning more and more as the season progresses. Reiss Nelson, the oldest player Arsenal have out on loan I think, needs a big season at Feyenoord. Tyreece John-Jules at Blackpool, Harry Clarke at Ross County, Miguel Azeez at Blackpool, Dan Ballard at Millwall and Nikolaj Möller at FC Viktoria Koln. It’s a shame the latter didn’t go to a Championship or League One club in England. Finally, of those in with the best chance of pushing into the first team, if Mikel Arteta believes in them is Konstantinos Mavropanos at Stuttgart and William Saliba at Marseille. I would mention Matteo Guendouzi too but I think his Arsenal career is done for all the time Mikel Arteta is manager.
In theory, the above loanees should be part of Arsenal’s future and of course, save the club millions in transfer fees. Otherwise, they’ll be sold in order to generate fees. Sounds so easy on paper doesn’t it but as we’ve seen this summer, just because you or I think player x, y or z should be sold, either the club disagree or finding a club prepared to pay for them is difficult.
Arsenal are fortunate, or perhaps a better expression would be that Arsenal’s academy is doing what it’s supposed to do and that’s producing a number of players who’ll in all likelihood, will be the club’s future. I find that quite exciting because I absolutely love seeing Arsenal kids develop into Arsenal men.
As we’ve all said on more than one occasion though, younger players need maturity and experience around them and I think this part is where Arsenal are struggling as their are few experienced players at the club right now who I’d consider to be perfect role models. Alex Lacazette, Thomas Partey, Rob Holding, Gabriel and Kieran Tierney spring to mind but the latter two are still only 25 years old themselves. Granit Xhaka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang might be the more senior and extremely experienced players, but one can be a liability in many ways, the other, the club’s captain for goodness sake, only turns on the style when he feels like it. Cedric Soares, Pablo Mari, Mo Elneny, Sead Kolasinac and Bernd Leno are the remaining senior players and I don’t think any are what I’d call leaders, or characters, on the pitch.
I think Arsenal still lack a proper captain, a presence and voice on the pitch. A big character who’ll stand up for his teammates on and off the pitch. A man who will not only lead, but lead by example. A Tony Adams, Patrick Vieira, Martin Keown or going back further, Frank McLintock. I would say Joe Mercer but I’m far too young to know what kind of influence he had both on and off the pitch.
Arsenal’s captain selections have been poor in recent years, in fact who was the last captain who in your opinion, has been Arsenal’s most deserved captain and who’s been the worst? When was the last time Arsenal appointed a ‘proper’ captain?
On the flip side, who in your opinion has been Arsenal’s worst captain?
See you in the comments….