What has happened to Arsenal’s player development? by AndersS
I am convinced most of our players, young talents and established players alike, have a wish to do well in their careers. In a mix of individual ambition, ambition to win prestigious trophies with the club, and for some, even ambition to play on their national team and do well.
The possibility to fulfill their personal ambitions is for a large part down to their own talent and especially their will to work hard to exploit their talent. The possibility to win with the team, club or national team, depend partly on their own contribution and mostly on the team as a whole. But even so, I am sure, most, if not all players dream of achieving both individual success and team success.
Enough has been said and written about our lack of team success the last 10-12 years in the competitions that really matter; The PL and the Champions League. At least enough about AW’s lack of tactical capability etc. and enough about the owners’ insufficient investment in class players.
I would like to focus on the player development, or rather, the lack of player development. We used to be a club, which could develop players. Not only a few young talents coming through and becoming stars, but also fairly established players bought at reasonable prices, were developed and turned into superstars.
There may be an odd exception or two, although I can’t name any right off the top of my head, but over the last few years, this may not have happened at all. Who were the latest young players from our academy coming through and becoming stars, either still playing for us or sold off as a real star? Help me, I don’t really know.
Who were the latest decent/established players acquired, who became superstars playing for Arsenal?
In fact, it may actually be that all of the established players, who today play for us (or are on loan to another club) and who also played for us 3-4 years ago, are no better than they were 3-4 years ago. Several may be considered worse today than 3-4 years ago, and that is excluding those, who because of age, might be seen as naturally worse.
Do we have any players, maybe except Özil and Aubameyang, that the likes of Barcelona or Real Madrid would pay large sums for? Or an English top club would pay large sums for? I think the answer is no.
I also think this can not just be put down to the players not being good enough in the first place. I see a clear pattern. Many players actually seem to have gone backwards after joining Arsenal.
This is combined with the lack of young players from the academy, actually fulfilling their promise. It is already 2-3 seasons ago the likes of Reine Adelaide, Akpom, Zelalem showed a lot of promise. But are they better now? It doesn’t really look like it to me.
This is a big worry. For what about Reiss Nelson, Maitland Niles, Nketiah and Willock, who all have played some this year? How will they turn out. Although there is obvious talent there, they honestly haven’t really convinced me, that they will be future stars.
There are things they seem to lack. First of all they seem more like phlegmatic young boys to me, than young unstoppable footballers ready to clear everything on their way to stardom. They also seem to have a big lack of both skill and desire/discipline to work hard on winning the ball back from opponents.
I hope player development will be hugely improved in the future. Not only the club deserve it, the players deserve it, and if they don’t see they can improve at Arsenal we will struggle. How can we hope for improved results, if we can’t improve the players?
But what can be done exactly? I hope the new manager will be able to do something also in that area.