5 Arsenal youth academy players who should play for the first team
Arsenal is a team, like Liverpool, Manchester United and Southampton that prides itself on the ability to constantly churn out talented young players and then turn them into finely tuned machines that can slot right into the first team.
But that doesn’t always work out that well and lately, it has barely worked at all, and in their current first team squad, only Jack Wilshere, Alex Iwobi, Francis Coquelin and Hector Bellerin have made the switch from the academy to the hallowed Emirates ground.
Alex Iwobi’s rise to prominence last season was as unexpected as it was whole-heartedly welcomed by the Arsenal faithful. However, in the ever-inflating transfer market that sees even the smaller Premier League clubs churn out almost £30 million for out of form players, thus managers look towards the academy, by developing youth players into stars.
Since Jack Wilshere made his debut as a 16-year-old in 2008, youth prospects good enough to play in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium have been few and far between. But there is still hope for Arsenal and their fans as a group of youngsters are waiting in the wings to take a place in the first team.
Here are five players who should make their mark in the coming seasons and could be the next Arsenal greats.
#5 Krystian Bielik
(Video Courtesy: ScoutingPolska YouTube Channel)
In 2015, Arsenal shelled out a reported figure of £2.4 million to a Polish international, barely 16-years-old then, and drew comparisons with former Arsenal great, Patrick Vieira. Two years on, Bielik has shown immense potential.
When the Pole arrived at Arsenal he was a defensive midfielder – Wenger saw that the 18-year-old had other talents and that he could also be played in a centre back role. Since then, the Polish international has been reshaped to fit the style of a modern defender.
The 19-year-old Polish player is extremely comfortable with the ball, having started as a midfielder and Wenger saw in him the potential to be the man to start off attacks from the back. However, it’s those Vieira comparisons that have made the Polish man so interesting, and those have come about partly because of the teenager’s stature, with him being over six feet.
He also boasts a superb long-range passing game, which is one of the traits that a modern defender should possess.
Although he arrived as a powerhouse defender and Arsenal’s next midfield general, the Polish international has excelled at both positions, even captaining Arsenal’s FA Youth Cup team last season. It’s time for Bielik to be tested at a higher level.