Arsenal fans need to stop daydreaming about stars and look to our academy

The pressure is on the Arsenal Academy to prove it really is cutting edge. by Willem

Arsenal’s budget has been a hot topic of speculation. Most rumours seem to point to a budget of between £40 or £50 million without CL football and revenue from players sold.

As always there has been speculation about which players Arsenal are targeting and what positions should be strengthened.

We are thin across the back line, Nacho is moving on in age, Bellerin is an uncertainty in terms of how he will return after a bad injury, as is Holding. We don’t have a real back-up for Bellerin. AMN’s development is wasted at RB, he should be moved to midfield, which is his best position. To say Mustafi has struggled is kind. Sokratis has a good mentality but in terms of the rest of his game, including decision making, he can’t be said to be a great CB. Kos is too old to rely on going forward.

We have lost Ramsey and should try to sell Ozil given the manager’s lack of faith in him. So, we are in dire need of a creative attacking midfield engine who can also score 10+ goals per season. And finally, we don’t have any real threat from the wings, meaning we have trouble giving adequate service to our strikers. So, in short other than the striker position, we need to improve across the board.

Clearly, £40 or £50 million is not going to address the above. Fans love doing the lazy math, and depending which fan’s point of view we can “easily” raise another £75 million by selling players (Ozil, Mustafi, Nacho, Xhaka, Iwobi, Mikhi, Jenkinson, Chambers, Elneny etc). But in practice you can’t add that money to our budget because it will take time to sell players and selling is not our strength So, you can’t make an offer for £60 million for a top winger or CD or creative midfielder and risk spending more than your budget whilst you have not yet sold any of your outgoing players. At the same time, you can’t really risk waiting until you might have sold your outgoing players before you move on you desired targets. If you don’t manage to sell Ozil can you afford to bring in another creative engine? Of course, our targets are likely to change depending on the budget. A bit of a conundrum.

One thing is clear, what ever the budget is, we cannot compete financially with the other top 6 teams. This means we have to look at our academy and we have to bring our young players through much, much faster than we are doing. And we need to create a strength in developing our young players. This cannot be done by shipping them out on loan spells. Ajax have a young team and don’t loan their players, generally because they believe they have a better system to develop their players. Spurs have greatly benefitted from not shying away from giving young players big responsibilities. We have to trust our young players and give them minutes over the Lichsteiners and Elneny’s and Mikhi’s. We have to stop thinking they are too young, or we have to change our academy and they way and speed with which they bring along their players.

If we don’t have the funds to buy our way to a proper transition, we have to increase our emphasis on developing our young players. Nelson could have helped us, and his own development, if he had been given major time on the wing this season in the PL. I also find it hard to believe Chambers could not have done a better job than Lichtsteiner or Elneny. Bielik should be brought back to the first team. We can address quite a few of our needs by bringing through our young players and learning from Ajax by giving them major time in the PL and supporting them in that way in their development. It is better to miss out on the top 4 because your young players were still developing (but getting better) than because of Lichsteiner or Mustafi making consistent mistakes which contribute nothing to your future or their development.

To ship out our young players on loan as a matter of routine, whilst buying average and inferior mature players in the market, means (to me) that your youth system in not working and that you believe other teams can develop your future stars as well as you can. If this is true you will not get back into the top 4 as long as you can’t compete financially.

So, as fans, I think we should spend as much time talking about and putting pressure on the club to play our young future stars as we should about daydreaming about unlikely offers for the likes of Zaha (or other players) who will likely cost more than our entire budget, whilst we don’t know what Nelson (Bielik, ESR, and others) could do for us.

Willem van De Vorm


  1. are you kroenke in disguise? but I agree with you that we should try our youngsters instead of deadwoods like lichs. this window though we should sort out our defence and wing positions by bringing in proven players better than mikhi and iwobble

      1. Atc
        If you buy a player for 20m then you pay over a 3 to 5 year period
        Its imperative we win tonight as the budget will at least double and now instead 40m it might be 80 to 90m
        This means attracting a higher calibre defender
        We are either going to shop in lidl and no offence to lidl shoppers or we go to M&S
        Tonight result I feel will.make or break us
        Come on you reds

  2. Do we have the belief that these boys can do an Ajax in the PL, it’s easier to get up for cup games. I would love to see S Rowe with the passion of Ian Wright and the determination of Cazorla or Ramsey or Wrighty. For Bielik to become a future captain while speaking cockney and shifting players about with the authority of a big Tone. I could keep going and find Parlour for our squad depth, you get the point though. Do we believe these lads in and around the space between academy and the squad, that they have what it takes to become leaders of their chosen field. They need to get the chances, but they should also have room for learning curves.

    1. Do we have reason to believe Nelson would have failed had he been given a few starts? Are we sure Chambers would have been worse than Lichtsreiner at RB or worse than Elneny in midfield? What I saw from S Rowe I believe he could have offered something in the PL.

      For my taste, we need to bring these guys along faster.

  3. Agreed, i think we have the players who need to develop in Emery’ philosophy rather than go out on loan. Im liking the sound of us making moves for 18-21 year old player or future Galacticos and having them at our club rather than minnows. Having a system of buying young and cheaper alla Mavripanos and Guendouzi bought for 3.5 an 7 million now the latter apparently worth 60+ million. Even though our youth academy graduates and young signings would appear to be raw at first, their talent, desire and loyalty would be a huge benefit. Were are already a big club, we don’t have to sell and they would appreciate they were given a chance by a top club to grow. You have to think we have the 3rd highest wage bill in the prem and still make more profits without financial doping. Were in a good position we need to restart the old Wenger buy young and cheap and develop them into world class players and well do well

  4. The best article I have read here for a while. If you are good enough you are old enough. Teams are integrating players into the first team at 16-18 years but we are shipping our 21 year olds to gain experience. Reiss Nelson is good enough, Smith-Rowe is good enough, Bielik has proven he is good enough to at least be a consistent back up. Then we have Nketiah, Joe Willock etc. Plezeguelo was hyped when he joined but crooked loan system did not help his development same to Zalalem, Crowley you can name tens of them. Either disband our scouting team and restructure the youth set up if they can not help youth players transition to first team or give the academy graduates a chance. It is unacceptable to give them chances in pre-season where they impress and fail to give them the opportunity to develop the Arsenal way.

      1. Stephy Mavididi just made his Juventus debut the other day but could not break into this Arsenal team

  5. Spot on ,have been saying it for quite a while that our academy graduates need to be given a chance.another example of clubs giving youngsters achance is Liverpool,they have the world’s best RB from their academy.what pains is seeing guedouzi starting ahead of say willock and yet skill wise willock is far better.I don’t think Emery is the coach to play see rumours of arsenal wanting a box to box yet they have Emile,Amn and willock, it baffles me.

    1. Me to. It makes no sense given our budget. Sure, it would be great to have a real owner with ambition but we don’t. So the only other alternative is bet on our own young guns.

  6. The sad truth is that our Academy can’t be relied on for now. Also considering our growing impatient with our Academy products it’s becoming harder for them to transition into top level football. Iwobi has been subjected to heavy criticism this season even while the suppose senior players were playing no better than him. Bellerin was also a victim at some point, who knows what awaits AMN.

  7. The announced/ rumored 40 M transfer budget could be just a smokescreen. We spent very little this season so I believe we still have a lot of money in the bank and I don’t believe one of the richest clubs in the world like Arsenal only have that ridiculous budget

    I have seen what our young players have done and I honestly don’t find their performances inspiring. The most exciting one is Reiss Nelson and that is if he plays as an RW, but still far from Mbappe’s/ Dembele’s performances in their debut season

    Of course we have to depend on our academy since the player prices do not make sense anymore, but I bet we wouldn’t find another Messi/ Neymar/ Ronaldo/ Mbappe there. To get players that can greatly influence the game, Arsenal have to rely on their scouts to find hidden gems. Unfortunately the scouting department have to be improved first

  8. An excellent article .I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed including the weaknesses highlighted in our experienced defenders in particular.The likes of Bielik,Chambers and Nelson deserve an opportunity after their achievements this season and ESR and Sacho are clearly real talents who are good enough to play now.Given our poor performances over the past 5/6 years we have absolutely nothing to lose by giving the youngsters a chance, indeed the majority of sensible fair minded Arsenal supporters would I am sure back Emery if he decides to follow the Ajax principles .

  9. A good article full of perspective and which acknowledges the FACT that Kroenke and his moth protected wallet is a huge handicap to our clubs ambitions. We have little choice than to PROPERLY blood our younger players – and that does NOT mean a few paltry minutes at end of a league cup game but a PROPER RUN in the Prem too. As the article rightly states, our present youngsters plus Nelson and Chambers on loan WOULD surely have done far better than the appalling joke CALAMITY Mustafi, the useless Elneny and the way past it Lichtsteiner. They were three wasted and pointless players to keep in our squad, none of them being any use at all. No serious club with proper ambition should EVER keep hopeless players who constantly let you down.

    I believe that Nelson, Saku, Smith-Rowe, AM-N and Holding will ALL be regular first picks this time a year from now, and even hopefully in a CL Final. Well, surely even I, the arch realist, can indulge a little fantasy at times!
    Whatever happens, the useless oldies brigade has failed us big time and youth must and I believe WILL now get its real opportunity! Now that realists at long last make the key decisions!

  10. Last season we were rumoured to only have about £50 million, 70 million maximum ato spend. People were scoffing at that rumour. But as it turned out the rumour turned out to be spot on.

    Now the same rumours citing a £40-70 million transfer chest are flying about and still some are scoffing at them, talking about “Fake News”. Lol

    With ‘Silent Stan The Mute’ in charge I don’t expect any different.

    But you never know. He Might suprise me.

  11. Being realistic we can’t spend even £40M on a single player, it would leave use with buttons to strengthen elsewhere.

    As such, I’m all for giving our youngsters the chance next season. Nelson, Smith-Rowe, Willock, Saka, Amaechi, Mavropanos and Nketiah to name a few.

    That’s seven youngsters who should be given a crack. You only need look at the number of experienced flops we’ve spent millions on over the years to know that if even three of these players make the grade then it’ll be worth it.

    Why spent £20-30M on an experienced player who turns out to be rubbish, when we can promote a youth product?

  12. Agree with the comments above. Chambers would have been far better than Elneny in the midfield, and rather have Nelson to play on the wings rather than no one or a CAM out of position like Mhki. Give the youngsters a shot then ship them on loan if they need the seasoning of more playing time.

    Holding was solid when he got a run, mix Mavro in, and Bielik should get a run as well. Ideally in their proper positions; Chambers competing with Torerria for the DM not as a RB. Let AMN and Guendouzi compete for the midfield spot, Nelson as a RW.

    Foolish to waste funds on Lichtsteiner in terms of wages when he is a 1-year stop gap not a solution. We always seem short on transfer funds, but plenty of money for wages for Lichtsteiner and others.

  13. To be fair to Unai Emery, Mavrapanos, AMN, Holding & ESR have all had lengthy injuries this season.
    I hope I’m wrong but Willock hasn’t really blown me away in the few appearances he has made.

    If Bellerin was fit or we had another option at RB maybe AMN would’ve had an opportunity in midfield?

    ESR was getting some minutes before he got injured and again if he was fit I’m sure he would’ve played a lot more.

    Holding had established himself as a 1st choice CB.

    1. Why don’t we bring Denis Bergcamp back into our academy to help coach these budding talents? He was probably one of the best players to grace the EPL our yougn boys could learn so much from him.

  14. N.B. William Saliba is just 18 yo and was unknown last season! Same for the other youngsters we are trying to buy. Why dont we give the potential ARSENAL in the academy a try? Full try out for a whole season not a few minutes at a time for each of about 8 youngsters. The faint heart never wins the fair lady!!!

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