The Great Hale End
Arsenal’s youth development program is working wonders
With the past few impressive performances from the Arsenal U23’s, I feel that it is time appreciate the work that is being done with by Arsenal youth development program. In recent years, Arsenal has not produced many youth players that went to the senior teams. Most of the time the players would leave and go off to have good careers at smaller teams and a few have shone in foreign leagues. The likes of Serge Gnabry, Donyell Malen, Bennacer and a few others have us wondering what could have been. How times have changed. With the likes of Saka and Smith-Rowe being stars in the first team, our youth program is starting to produce real talent. The current crop of players have some good talents and few potential world-class level players but, the next generation looks to be something entirely different.
Arsenal’s youth team was nothing to brag about until recently. Most of the players that did come through were mediocre. There would be one stand-out of that group that would be lauded by the coaching staff. But on moving to the first team they were not panning out the way we all hoped they would. When that player becomes a shell of their former self, the fans would hope the player would one day return to the form they had when they first burst onto the scene, until the day they finally left the club. Once that day comes, fans would wonder of a player’s potential unfulfilled.
From there it changed to players who didn’t get enough opportunities or players that were written off to early. Not many of them flourished when they moved on, but the ones that did succeed are a painful reminder of what could have been. The player that hurts the most is Serge Gnabry. He could have been a star for the Arsenal if we only had not listened to Tony Pulis.
Now we have entered a new era of the Arsenal academy, The Great Hale End. It is premature to dub the academy now as great, but I feel it is a title that they will earn in the near future. The current graduates are a good example of what is to come. Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe are great talents with good personalities that can be a great additions to any team. Ainsley Maitland-Niles, although now 24, is a good talent with the versatility of playing almost anywhere on the pitch. Joe Willock, our graduate in Newcastle struggling to find form, has shown that he is capable of being a goal threat. They show how the academy has improved with the higher quality of prospects.
The next group of players are no different. The list of prospects to look out for is far too lengthy to mention all the players. Balogun, Patino and Azeez are the most likely to break into the first team. Ballard Omari Hutchison, Salah Oulad M’hand, Beirath the list goes on. Arsenal are producing a plethora of players that are pushing their way to the first team.
Now, not all of them will make it, some will move on to be great for other teams, others might have mediocre careers or find their way to lower leagues. With the number of rising stars among our ranks you feel hopeful of what they could become.
Hale End is producing real talent, hopefully they can mature into home-grown superstars.