Arsene Wenger has revealed the thought-process behind promoting youth players into his first-team, following the exciting emergence of Alex Iwobi.
The 19 year-old has moved from the Under-21 squad, to a first-team regular in the past couple of months, and has just earned himself a new five-year deal with the club.
His boss Arsene Wenger has now claimed there are a number of future stars in or about the first-team, and goes onto name three of those who are closest to earning their call up to the playing squad.
“We have many players of big quality,” Wenger told the Arsenal Weekly Podcast. “The guys with me now are Chris Willock, who is very impressive, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, who is with us on a daily basis, and Reiss Nelson.
“We have a few players. Behind the first team, there is a core of six or seven players – I do not name them all now – who are really a guarantee for the future of Arsenal Football Club.
“You assess his individual performances in training compared to the players who have a regular part in the Premier League.
“Once you see that [a youth player] can match that, you question yourself [if he is ready]. And if a player manages consistently to make you wonder, ‘Oh he might be ready now,’ then at some stage you find a moment to put him in.”
Iwobi has certainly opened our eyes with a number of great displays, and the thought of two or three more young stars hitting the ground running in the first-team is exciting, but seems some way away surely.
Any team would much rather have their youth promoted to the playing squad but it is not a transition that many players can manage in the way that Alex has. The youngsters will of course be new blood into the system, but whether any can hold down a regular role in the near future is hopeful at most.
Reine-Adelaide has been in the squad on a number of occasions, but doesn’t appear ready yet, so we will have to settle for the impressive Iwobi for now.