Academy football used to be the bread and butter of English culture. Fans are more inclined to support a player when they are ‘one of their own’. However, the pressure and demands of Premier League riches has forced clubs to look towards more quickfire solutions. It’s now expected for clubs to buy ‘readymade’ foreign players in place of having the patience for youth prospects to come good.
Arsenal has always been known to give young players a chance, the likes of Reiss Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles have broken into the senior squad this season. It was Arsène Wenger that laid the foundations for this breakthrough as he always gave youth players a chance to shine. However, even under his watch, a few gems were given their marching papers.
Here are three youngsters Arsenal regret selling.
#3 Ismael Bennacer
Back in 2015, a young midfielder arrived from Ligue 2 with massive expectations attached to his name. Throughout his whole time in North London, Ismael Bennacer only made one senior appearance in a League Cup match.
The following year he would be loaned out to Tours in which he made 16 appearances. After two years at the club, Bennacer was finally shipped off to Empoli in sharpish fashion. The Gunners weren’t completely blind to his undeniable talent and negotiated a buy-back clause in his sale.
In 2019, the midfielder made a progressive move to AC Milan for €16million, the Gunners received 30% of this fee as they decided not to activate their buy-back option. The Algerian has since gone on to be a main focal point of Milan’s midfield, regularly controlling games by himself. In a time where Arsenal are scrambling for midfield options across Europe, it’s funny to know they used to own the answer to their current problems.