Okonkwo says being the number one goalkeeper for Arsenal is his ambition
Arsenal tied down yet another talented youngster in Arthur Okonkwo on Friday evening. The 19-year-old has played in every youth category for the Gunners, starting from the U9.
He has now become the first Hale End Academy goalkeeper to have entered the senior team premises since 2003, which in itself is an astonishing feat.
If the London born shot-stopper does end up making an appearance for Arsenal, which he is likely to do, Okonkwo will become one of the tallest players to ever play for The Red and White.
The English goalkeeper, who made his Premier League 2 debut at the age of just 17 years in 2018/19 season, will be installed in the team as a third-choice goalkeeper.
Okonkwo is the first Hale End-produced goalkeeper to be promoted to the Arsenal first-team squad since Graham Stack in 2003. pic.twitter.com/uQQBM3t60p
— Jeorge Bird (@jeorgebird) July 9, 2021
That comes as a huge boost to Arsenal, as their home-grown slots are expected to decrease below the minimum required of eight. Folarin Balogun is another academy player who will get registered in the 25-man Premier League squad for next season.
Okonkwo, who has made 25 and 10 appearances for Arsenal and England’s youth teams respectively, said that it feels great to come up through the academy ranks to represent the first team.
“It’s just surreal,” Okonkwo told Arsenal.com. “To be from the academy to be able to come up to Colney, train, play in the under-18s, train, play in the under-23s and then move up and train with the first team, and then hopefully, one day, make my first-team debut. It’s a great feeling to be here.”
I can’t wait to see the fans: Okonkwo
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) July 9, 2021
The young shot-stopper admitted that he couldn’t even believe that he was being called up to the first-team picture for this season. “Just the other week I couldn’t even imagine being promoted to the first team, so this is a big push for me, a new challenge for me. So, I am very excited to start.
He continued, “I think short term [my goal] would be getting used to being in the first-team environment, getting used to the players I’m with.”
“Then long term I look to do as well as I can with this promotion up to the first team, being the No 3 goalkeeper, and pushing on to be the No 1 goalkeeper one day and the only way I’ll be able to do that is by coming in and working hard every day and that is my biggest ambition for the season.”
Although chances will be hard to come by in the Premier League next campaign, Okonkwo will naturally be the first-choice goalkeeper for their preseason. Bernd Leno is still on vacations after involvement in the European Championships with Germany, while Maty Ryan has returned to Brighton, and is looking likely to make a switch to Spanish club Real Sociedad or maybe Celtic.
— Emi Martínez (@emimartinezz1) September 8, 2020
Runar Alex Runnarson’s horrific time at the club might as well come to an end, after reports suggested that he’s in talks with Turkish club Altay Spor for a permanent deal.
Arthur Okonkwo definitely excites me and I’m looking forward to seeing him in the preseason. With his frame, I hope he has better commanding presence in the 12-yard box than Bernd Leno.
Hopefully, he has a similar rise to prominence like Emiliano Martinez. Just a little bit quicker.