What happened to Arsenal’s youth system?

Despite the Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger being very stingy when it comes to spending big on bringing established players to the club, there was one thing the Frenchman was always revered for and that was the club’s youth system. Wenger had the reputation not so long ago of being a manager who could spot hidden potential and convert that into world-class talent.

But looking at the situation now, you could argue that Hector Bellerin is perhaps the only successful youth prospect in the past couple of years. While players like Jack Wilshere, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have failed to live up to their potential, there are others like Alex Iwobi, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Jeff Reine-Adelaide, on whom it is too early to take a call on.

In comparison with a team like Spurs, it is easy to observe that it is their youth prospects who are leading them towards a title challenge. Players like Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker, all of whom are either products of the academy or recruited by the club at a very young age, have played a pivotal role in their team’s success this season, which begs the question as to why Arsenal have failed in this regard.

When it comes to the scouting, it is not just down to Wenger. Personally, I believe that a successful recruitment policy is a balance between choosing the right youth prospects and the right big-money signings, and Spurs have done that perfectly. So apart from just spending big on players in the summer, which needs to be done, the club have to look at fixing the youth system as well.



  1. twig says:

    We don’t really need a youth system. We have Southampton FC.

    1. Josh37 says:

      What? With our whole two players we bought from them with us this season…? Who we both bought at the age of 16-17?
      Stupid comment

      1. dutchy says:

        Well his comment is a bit funny, yours isn’t even true..

  2. True gunner says:

    The FA youth cup final over the past few years should give you an idea. It’s been Man city vs Chelsea for some time now. With Man city and Chelsea signing the best young players, Arsenal will have their work cut out for them.

  3. Atid says:

    Including the players currently out on loan, 8 of our first team were either brought into the academy at a young age or started with arsenal. That’s about 25%. Our under23s are currently 4th in their league while the under18s finished second in the southern group and currently sit 5th in the combined group play off league.

    We have some great young talent coming through as well. Nelson, mavididi, nketiah, willock, maitland-niles.

    1. Josh37 says:

      Bielik and Holding are absolutely brilliant prospects as well. We also brought in the u17 captain and player of the tournament as well who could be a massive coup in years to come.

  4. AFC says:

    Wenger fails miserably season in season out and when he renews his contract he gets at least 2 mill more from what he was getting last time round.Wenger has the best job in the world(Gets paid millions and millions for FAILING.)

  5. Lord wafflebury says:

    Mock the spuds all you like but they are prepared to play their best youth talent and give them a chance over a long period something wenger is not prepared to do. He prefers to send them out on loan where they waste their talent in the lower leagues, return and then get sold on like gnarby , afobe etc….most probably happen to bielik too…give the kids a chance while we have nothing to play for ffs

    1. Lee says:

      Iwobi .. Holding .. Bellerin .. Maitland Niles .. Reine-Adélaïde

  6. Poch says:

    Its happened again, Its happened agaaaaaaain….jack wheelchair its happened again! lolololololol

  7. dutchy says:

    ‘Spurs have done that perfectly.’ Nooo. They can’t have done it perfectly. If they done it perfectly they would have won something by now. If they don’t win anything this year or the next they also have to rebuild the team. There youth team now is isn’t that impressive and certanly not better than Arsenal’s.

  8. Janssen says:

    I agree with this article and have been thinking about that for a while. To some extent it also matters how you define “youth system”. Players like Cesc, Holding, Bellerin, etc came from different youth systems.

    As a club you need to find the talent when the players are 5-7 years old. In addition you can poach from other clubs like we did with Bellerin and Cesc who we poached from Barca.

    But if all three (senior players bought, young players bought/poached, youth system) fail to deliver genuine top players for a prolonged period of time you find your self where we are.

    I think this years and last years harvest of senior players (Cech, Xhaka, Perez, Mustafa) have not contributed as expected or delivered any world class perfomances consistently. The young players bought (Ox and Theo and Chambers mentioned above in context of Southampton) have not turned out world class and many of our youth players go on loan and never come back.

    We clearly have trouble spotting talent accross the board and that does not even address the fact that we also clearly have problmes developing players. It seems to me that it is not uncommon for talented players to come to Arsneal only to be molded into untalented players. Even as recently as Mustafi who started promessing but than faded. But players like Ramsey, Wilshire, Gibbs, where all hugly successful at an early age shwoing lots of promiss (could throw Ox and Theo in there as well I guess) but strangely not a single one of them developed in a geniuinly world class player and that is not down to their injuries IMO.

  9. Gworm says:

    These things go in phases. Look back to Man U’s class of 92. They had a phenomenal crop of youngsters one year, then none for the next ten. Now they have Rashford etc coming through. Spurs haven’t had many good youth players for years. Spotting the talent at a very young age and seeing it through to fruition is fraught with places where things can go wrong, and I don’t think any club has consistently got it right over many years. Some years they just get lucky.

  10. gooner4life says:

    our beloved club has not been the same since David Dein left .Lets start a campain to get him back.

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