Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger has made a name for himself promoting youngsters to the first team. The Frenchman is known to have a keen eye for raw talent and the list of youngsters he has groomed over the years ranges from the likes of Gunners’ greats Patrick Vieira to last season’s revelation Hector Bellerin.
While not all the 19-year-old’s handed a first team call by Arsene Wenger have made it at the highest level, he has a better accuracy than most managers in identifying the one’s worth taking a punt on. Arsenal FC have some of the most talented youngsters in the country and even though a fraction of them have been shipped out on loan to gain valuable first team experience, some have been retained to provide cover in the event of an injury or to continue their grooming under the able tutelage of Monsieur Wenger.
Here we take a look at some of the youngsters presently with the North London club, who could come good over the course of the season.
1. Krystian Bielik
The Polish youngster was signed by Arsene Wenger in January this year from Legia Warsaw for a fee reported to be in the region of A?2.4million. The Gunners faithful were losing their patience over Wenger not spending the cash on a much needed defensive midfielder, when he brought in this talented youngster to London Colney.
It was believed that the 17-year-old might move directly into the first team to provide cover for Francis Coquelin, who had only just returned from his loan at Charlton Athletic. However, the youngster is yet to make his debut for the Gunners (the 17-year-old defensive midfielder made it to the Legia Warsaw first team at the tender age of 16).
Now, there indeed is a huge difference in the quality between Arsenal FC and Legia Warsaw, but Bielik has been touted as one of the reasons as to why Arsene Wenger is not looking to bring in another midfielder this summer. The Gunners have been marred with injuries over the years to crucial first team players; however, Wenger feels that any signing in the midfield department could potentially hinder Bielik’s development.
2. Alex Iwobi
The 19-year-old winger is an academy graduate of Arsenal FC and impressed during the Gunners’ pre-season tour of Singapore. The Nigerian scored a brilliant first time left-footed effort in the 6-0 demolition of Lyon during the Emirates Cup.
Iwobi comes from footballing royalty being the nephew of one of the greatest Nigerian footballers of all time, Jay-Jay Okocha. Iwobi was ever present in all of Arsenal FC’s academy teams last term and is known for his dribbling and incisive running. The 19-year-old also has pace to burn and has the ability to unlock staunch defences.
Iwobi has been with the club since he was eight and if he continues his meteoric development, there’s no reason why he would not feature for the Gunners in the near future. The Emirates outfit are well stocked up in the wide forward department, but Iwobi could prove to be an able back-up and may be given the occasional chance to shine in Cup games against lesser opposition.
3. Jeff Reine-Adelaide
Jeff Reine-Adelaide was a relatively unknown footballer before his unofficial debut for Arsenal FC in the Emirates Cup against Lyon. Arsene Wenger hailed the 17-year-old as something special and only the next day Reine-Adelaide came good on the the gaffer’s word.
The French youth international assisted Theo Walcott as the latter scored the winner against Wolfsburg in the final of Emirates Cup. The 17-year-old was signed from French side RC Lens in July of 2015 and his style of play has seen him draw comparisons with Gunners great Patrick Vieira.
A huge section of fans and pundits have suggested that Arsenal FC have failed to replace the former Invincible and if Reine-Adelaide can live up to the initial hype, he might be the solution to the long standing problem of the Gunners midfield lacking bite and drive. The 17-year-old was also instrumental in France’s victory at the 2015 European Under-17 Championship and found a place for himself in the team of the tournament.