With 15 year old Ethan Nwaneri having had his record breaking moment last weekend, it’s hard not to wonder who’s next. Perhaps no one again this season although I wouldn’t bet on it. If Mikel Arteta’s players can secure top spot in the Europa League Group before the final fixture or two, then I wouldn’t be at surprised to see one or two youngsters drafted in for those fixtures and why not? Imagine what it must feel like playing for the first time in the senior team, mind blowing I’d have thought. With so many of our under 21 players out on loan, it’s the rest of the youth players who’ll be trying to catch Mikel Arteta’s eye.
Ten of our players have received call-ups to international youth team squads. Seven of them are in the England set-up. Charlie Patino, Flo Balogun, Brooke Norton-Cuffy, Ethan Nwaneri, Myles Lewis-Skelly, Lino Souza and Amario Cozier-Duberry. (Son of ex Chelsea player Michael Dubery?) some of those listed have already played for their respective England age group within the last couple of days however, Norton-Cuffy has withdrawn having picked up an injury. In addition to the above listed players, Henry Jeffcott has been called up for Northern Ireland, James Sweet for Wales and Teodor Minchev for Bulgaria.
Having ten youngsters away on international duty at this stage of their footballing life is great for the club as well as it is for the players selected. It shows the academy is producing young guys with potential. Liverpool reportedly have 16 youngsters currently on international duty though.
Senior Arsenal players called up for international duty this time is:
Aaron Ramsdale (England), Matt Turner (United States), Karl Hein (Estonia), Kieran Tierney (Scotland), William Saliba (France), Takehiro Tomiyasu (Japan), Thomas Partey (Ghana), Bukayo Saka (England), Martin Odegaard (Norway) and Granit Xhaka (Switzerland).
Twenty Arsenal players on international duty in total. Not quite the 28 of Liverpool but still, if certain managers can’t see what’s staring them in the face then the better it is for Arsenal. Having the three Gabriel’s, White, ESR, Nketiah, Holding, Zinchenko, Lokonga – and anyone else I’ve missed, back at Arsenal either taking it easy or recovering in time for the first north London Derby of the season won’t do them any harm at all.
2008/09, that’s where this Arsenal are heading towards as far as the average age of the squad goes. The oldest player back then was Manuel Almunia, the youngest, Jack Wilshere at 17 years old. In between there were names which looking back, I wonder how the heck they were ever signed let alone stayed. We had a few really good players too like Cesc Fabregas, Adebayor, Tomas Rosicky, Abu Diaby (pre injury) and Samir Nasri etc but the rest really were just making up the numbers. Arsenal finished the season in 4th place, 18 points behind Man Utd.
I know the game has changed because of the ownership and investment etc but it’s only now that our squad is much younger as an average but over the last couple of years, the club has signed younger players without sacrificing quality. Most of whom have been individually bought for less than £50 million and they’ve taken to Arsenal like ducks to water. When the only thing the media can write about is the Gabriel Magalhaes tweet about Sunday’s match, it’s clear Arsenal are doing something good.
The problem I foresee is hanging on to our players and that includes the youngsters who are thrown into the limelight whilst playing for their respective countries, regardless of at which age level. But, as a friend said to me yesterday, as other clubs are sniffing around our players, Arsenal will be sniffing around theirs. With Arsenal able to boast about having a very young squad, young players are going to know that if they’re good enough, they’ll get their opportunity under Mikel Arteta. Just not before they’re ready. Omari Hutchinson might have become impatient but by moving back to Chelsea, I’d have thought his chances of getting into the first team are less than they would have been at Arsenal. Not because Chelsea are better than us, but because they throw money at new signings like it’s going out of fashion.
We’ve seen many players jump ship when other clubs come calling. Ashley Cole being the hardest to take imo, but Nasri, Adebayor, Clichy, Sagna, Fabregas, RvP – the list is endless. I’m sure some move for better wages, others because they’ve considered Arsenal to lack ambition but in my opinion, the latter of the two no longer applies. Arsenal are showing ambition both on and off the pitch. With such a young squad, we’re on the rise and at quite a rate of knots too and what level headed youngster wouldn’t want to be a part of it? Especially if he’s an Arsenal fan.
I’ve read, heard Arsenal’s improvement be played down somewhat with the ‘greater tests to come’ being spewed out but if beating Crystal Palace and Brentford away from home in the fashion we did isn’t enough to convince people that vast improvements on last season are evident, then so be it.
All we need now is to hear that William Saliba, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli have signed new contracts. Oh, and a midfielder arrival in January.
See you in the comments.