Where Are Our Academy Defenders? by AI
Arsenal youth are highly regarded across the continent. We have produced, and continue to produce, some of the best attackers and midfielders plying their trade in high-level football. Every other year, an exciting new midfielder bursts onto the scene, threatening to potentially become the next Cesc Fabregas. At other times, it’s a winger or a striker with wonderful ability. And that’s all good and great. It was fantastic to watch our youth under our instruction grow into capable senior professionals with family and responsibilities. We can only hope that this new generation continues the trend.
But where are our youth defenders?
Hale End seem to never produce defenders of the same quality as the midfielders or strikers. The last great one was Hector Bellerin and that’s more than half a decade ago. In that space of time, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Alex Iwobi, Emile Smith-Rowe, Joe Willock (all midfielders by training) have sprung up. Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson, Bukayo Saka have also appeared within that period (all forwards by training). An entire new generation devoid of defensive presence.
Why is it that the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and City can produce defenders as much as players from other positions on the field and we can barely produce one?
How is the recruitment like at the young ages? Is it deliberate on the part of our trainers, seeing that defenders are cheaper to acquire for the senior team more than midfielders and strikers? Have they concluded at Hale End that the risk involved in giving young central defenders chances in the senior squad is greater than that of players further up the pitch? Or is it all a fluke and we will be producing defensive equivalents of Ramsey and Chamberlain in the nearest future?
Unless we get some direct information from staff involved with the academy, we won’t know. All we have to live by is what we can see on the field, and going by that, it is legitimately a good question to ask where our youth defenders are going.