Although many Arsenal fans keep saying that Mikel Arteta studiously ignores our youngsters when he is picking his matchday squads, the fact remains that Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka had breakthrough seasons in the last campaign. But Arteta did come under fire for not making more use of other youngsters like Martinelli, Nketiah, Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock when our more senior players were clearly underperforming.
There is little doubt that Arteta must be regretting giving a three year contract to the 32 year-old Willian last summer, and it would appear that the Gunners are now trying to secure younger players this summer that could have some resale value in the future if they were to leave the club, under whatever circumstances.
As an article in the Express pointed out this morning: “Arsenal chiefs are believed to be willing to spend as much as £250million to secure their preferred targets.
Midfield options Albert Sambi Lokonga, Yves Bissouma and James Maddison, Norwich full-back Max Aarons and Brighton centre-half Ben White are all of interest to Arsenal.
And the five players are all under 25, fitting the preferred profile of the club’s transfer targets, as they prioritise players with growth and sell-on value.
Although he has been criticied for not using all his youngsters, Arteta clearly worries about protecting his starlets from burnout and introducing them to his squad very slowly. As the Spaniard pointed out at this time last year….
“I have a lot of faith in the young talent we have at the football club, but we need the right stability and foundations around them to make sure they develop in the right way, at the right moment, with the right amount of talent behind them.
“But to do that, it’s a process and if you want to speed up that process, you risk burning them and burning all the process – and you cannot do that.
“We have some young players who are playing more football than they probably should be doing, but they’re showing great maturity and lot of personality to play in difficult moments which is great for their experience.
“But as well we need the other players to support them the right way, and that’s what we are trying to achieve.
“To find this balance to be very competitive but as well very excited about the future ahead of us.”
Personally I think he is right to bring in younger players, but not too young as we have enough of them coming through the academy that have to be nurtured.
But there are many, many mature, talented and experienced players in the age-range of 22-25 that can help our “kids” come through.
How hard is it to find the balance between youth and experience?