Are Arsenal losing their touch with young future stars?

Arsenal are believed to be close to losing highly-rated youngster Chris Willock at present, with Benfica believed to be closing in.

The young midfielder has been mentioned on numerous occasions as one of the stand-out players from our academy, but was only promoted to the first-team squad to make two League Cup appearances.

His lack of action in the first-team set-up is likely have been a telling factor as he rejected our contract offers, and is now set to leave on a free transfer, albeit with his new club ordered to pay a development fee to our club.

Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund and Benfica have all been linked with his capture in recent months, but it is the latter who look set to land his signature.

It is believed that the offer of an important role in the first-team squad is what has swayed him to snub the advances of Dortmund in favour of a move to Portugal, and it will be interesting to see him try and make his mark in the Primeira Liga, and the Champions League.

For Arsenal on the other hand, it poses as another young future star to have opted for a move away from the club, before really getting a chance to prove himself in our own set-up.

Serge Gnabry left last summer to move to German side Werder Bremen, although there is contrasting reports as to whether Bayern Munich had a hand in his return to Germany, and the German giants have made him their player this summer, although a loan move is being mooted for him in the current window.

Many Gunners fans have grown annoyed at hearing the plaudits given to Gnabry after he departed from our club, and he has been impressing in the Bundesliga and the German senior side, which is frustrating knowing he was never given a real chance to shine in our famous red shirt.

Will Willock prove to be another failure for our club? Should he have been given more playing time?

Pat J

Tags Arsenal Benfica Gnabry Willock


  1. Jay says:

    Yes. Good article and it’s about time someone brought up this point. Arsenal do not any future stars in thier youth ranks and that is a big problem that has to be addressed.

    1. Marcus says:

      Did you read the article mate? Pat isn’t talking about our youth ranks not having future stars. The point he raised is that we’ve been unable to retain some of our young guns after they’ve reached maturity.

      And we do have young stars! Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Eddie Nketiah are just two of the boys me and many others excited to see step up into the first team next season.

      1. Janssen says:

        But we don’t see any of these young stars coming through. You can not be a young star until you are a Cesc (in his early days) or Dele Ali, or Jesus or Mbappe. You need to be in the first team regularly and shine. Not even Iwobi managed that although I believe he holds a lot of promise. Same for Bellerin. Both these guys (Iwobi and Bellerin) burst on the scene and then fade, that has to be management.

        We do need to give the Maitland-Niles of our squad more time and last season was a perfect time to do that when we were struggling and could have used some fresh input but we are no longer a club that brings through young talent with predictable frequency.

    2. Guneal says:

      I got to thumb you down because I personally don’t think it’s a problem.

      The ” young future stars” of Mr. wenger was a failed experiment. It all started around 2004 and ended 2013 which culminated into 9years without a major trophy. The term ” young future stars ” was used by Mr. wenger to explain we can not compete with big clubs for quality established players due to our financial statue at had the time. very understandable!

      If you wants to be a big club focus on players who can deliver or invest in ” young future players ” and be a southampton.

      Barca, madrid, juve, man u, chealse, bayern etc. these clubs don’t have any ” young future stars “.

      1. funkyrith says:

        All the teams you mentioned have better young stars than us. Check how many Madrid players are on loan and will come back to man team this year. Marcos Llorente, Diego Llorente, Jesús Vallejo, Lucas Silva…last year they had Marco Asensio on loan too. Even they understood a Galactico model wont last for ever, and Zidane is operating within limits, spending 10m net last year

  2. Durand says:

    It’s an unfortunate result of hanging on to deadwood players past their sell by date.

  3. funkyrith says:

    Good article. Gnabry is not a good one as he had his heart already set to go out, for bigger packages. And did not want to wait his turn, he bought his contract out at Bremen to join BM, not a club man. Our academy is not the old famous academy anymore, producing top talent. But what we can do is to buy 17-18 year old players and bring them up, cant buy multiple 50m players each year. 10M or less each will get us Emre Mor, Leon Bailey, Dominic Solanke, Dani Ceballos,Sam Surridge, Alexander Isak, our own Reiss Nelson…the list goes on. Not saying buy all the kids, but mixing it up, buying 3-4 a season, loaning them out a season or two, and if they make the grade get them to play first team should be our vision. Each there will be an Alexis/Ozil saga as many of our players will draw closer to contract expiration and an age of 28-29, they will try move for a bigger pay check. If we can bring 2 players from within, academy and youth outlay of 25m included each year, we can sustain this cruel footballer’s market

  4. kev says:

    Its seems to me that both the club and it’s fans are not serious.Anytime Arsenal sign a youngster from another team who is dubbed the next whatever people come out and say Arsenal have just signed a youngster who may or may not make it and that Arsene should sign ready made.They say it to seem as if it’s a bad thing.Now that Chris Willock is leaving I’m anticipating that a lot of people are soon going to be blaming the same Wenger who actually likes bringing in youngsters.Anyway you have to look at the reasons he lfet.It’s for game time and to him he thinks its a good choice.The bright side is that he’s not Arsenal’s most talented player.The likes of Donyell Malen,Yassin Fortune,Reiss Nelson in my eyes have more potential as wingers.I also think Arsenal should be very excited about Eddie Nketiah and Stephy Mavididi.They can be world class strikers in the future particularly Eddie.

  5. kev says:

    It also seems people are of the view that our academy is not producing top talent.I would like to ask them on what basis this is being said.I would like them to back it with facts.Currently if you mention the best academies in the world Arsenal always comes to mind.I just don’t know what’s wrong with people.Arsenal have an academy with players who are as talented as the players in the so called top academies.You can’t blame the club due to the fact that a player doesn’t maximise or develop his potential.We are a team that gives many young players especially those with potential to develop and even have an impact on the first team.I just don’t get where the notion that our academy is not a top academy anymore is coming from.I’d like people to back it with facts.

  6. Atid says:


    People moaning we ain’t winning titles, not bringing in the best players, but want to promote kids to the first team that clearly aren’t ready for the physicality of the premier league.

    I am almost done with it all.

  7. Richard says:

    It’s not Arsenal but Wenger whose lost their touch. No longer the magnet for young talent just a tired old man trying to beat Fergies record for longevity, he’s got the most FA cups which is unlikely to be beaten and longest serving prem manager will last for ever as it’s unlikely to be beaten. Disgraceful. Arsene FC where the wishes of the one prevails over the wishes of the many. ( thank you Mr Spock )

  8. Break-on-through says:

    Surprised by this one, he’s been long held as one of our best prospects. He’s only 19 and is at one of the worlds biggest cubs. Maybe he should have worked harder and fought more if he thinks he should have cracked it by now. I’d like to think he’d show us some loyalty, appreciation for our efforts on his development. But we didn’t think twice before chucking his brother to one side, who then got a place with utd. I don’t think his brother will make it, but it’s a strange one. If we could get him to sign and then loan him to Portugal, that would be good. I wish him all the best anyway and can see the logic in going to Benfica, they do good work and make allot of money off the back of that work. Good luck Chris.

  9. ZEN2OH says:

    The best way to develop any youth is to allow them play alongside with top and world class players which will make them develop so well . That wasn’t the case for Arsenal from 2003-2013, our world class players all left around 2006/07, since then we only rely on Youth developed players and we buy bunch of Average players that some came good and some did not……
    Youth players like
    Fabregas,Walcot,Ox,Denlison,Diaby,Song, Scneny,Fabianski,Vito Manone,Carlos Hoyte,Djorou,Jekinson,Vela,Bentner,Cocquelin,Clichy,Gibbs,iwobi,even RVP developed too under Wenger same as Fabregas
    Few players we both that are little above Average are
    Edurado Da’Silva, Nasri, Ashavin,Vermaleen,Ospina,Xhaka, Cazrola,Mustafi, Rosisky
    Those that are Average we bought are
    Adebayo,Gallas,Koscenly(though Wenger has turned him to world class now),Giroud,Gevihno,Ramsey
    Those that are far below Average in fact very poor are
    Chamarck, Sanogo,Micheal silvestre, squillaci
    Those that are World class that we bought are
    Ozil, Sanchez, Petr Cech
    Imagine with some bunch of craps with our youth developing to play alongside with them, they won’t develop much……..RVP and Cesc developed with the likes of Henry, Pires,Veira that’s why they both became world class,

  10. Uche Edochie says:

    Unfortunately, we cannot eat our cake and still have it on this one. Pat has made ad excellent point. But we are at a stage in the history of our club now where nothing is good enough except the premier league trophy. We just won the FA cup, beating man city and chelsea in the process and many fans scoffed at that and said it is not a real trophy. So who are we going to win this real trophy with? Wilock? Gnabry? Of course not. We did the youth thing for a long time and always came up short. Today we are out of the champions league. If we are going to muscle our way back into the top four, it will be with proven players. It is unfortunate but true.

  11. Rorie Day says:

    Wasn’t it just a year or two ago that Wenger said Willock was good enough for the first team, it was just that there were players ahead of him?

    I don’t think comparing arsenal’s academy players at Arsenal to Chelsea’s will get us very far.

    What we should do is look at Barcelona, Southampton, Sporting Lisbon Academies and try to mimic there methods; and if it simply comes down to 1st Team Minutes being the key factor behind player development then we need to SACK every single person involved with sending our players on loan.

    Too many of our players go on unproductive loan spells where they sit on the bench or don’t make the match day squads at all (Chambers, Toral at Rangers, Nwakali In Holland) being the only real positive exceptions.

    Plus, am I the only one who feels homegrown “local” players are the academy (Iwobi, Gibbs, Wilshere, Maitland-Niles, Nelson etc). Whereas, players brought in Bellerin, Toral etc are more fine tuning and polishing off rather than Academy Youth?

    1. Tony says:

      My problem is not these players leaving for reasons best known to them…buh as a club with good business mindset i feel the club should try what clubs in Spain and Italy are doing…attaching a buy-back clause to a player who we feel have the tendency of coming out good in the nearest future…take a look at what Madrid did to Morata when he decided to go to Juventus for regular first team football…the club need to understand that they can’t accommodate everybody at the same time but they could still hold on to these future stars.

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