Arsenal FC News

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Project Yoof: there does seem to be a serious plan in place to cope with the lack of money

Player Games (+sub) Goals
Ben Sheaf 10 + 2 0
Eddie Nketiah 11 10
Emile Smith Rowe 4 2
Jordi Osei-Tutu 11 + 1 0
Joe Willock 13 7
Julio Pleguezuelo 16 + 1 1
Konstantinos Mavropanos 3 1
Krystian Bielik 1 1
Reiss Nelson 2 1
Tolaji Bola 9 0
Xavier Amaechi 14 + 1 4
Zech Medley 11 + 2 1

Of course playing games in PL2 does not mean one moves forward automatically.  I have included Pleguezuelo in this list to make this point – he has now left the club and gone to play for Twente.   Bielik’s position is unclear – he was out on loan last season, and we wait to hear if he is staying with the club.

So uncertainly surrounds many of the players and this is not an absolute guide to who is stepping up, but rather an indicator of players who might make the big leap forward and who played in the under 23s last season.

It is also being suggested in some quarters that the model for this step-change development for Arsenal is the Ajax model.  They won the League and Cup last season, and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League with a team including a mix of experienced players and youngsters that have come up through their own system.

But more than that they have deliberately set out to incorporate players who have come up through their ranks, and make greater use of past Arsenal players, rather than expecting to buy success only through a transfer market, which is making top players increasingly out of reach for Arsenal.

Of course the return of Steve Bould to working with the younger players, and having Robert Pires in the club, helping players return from injury, is not the sort of headline news the bloggers and newspaper fantasists like to run – they want transfer rumours rather than tales of dedicated hard work.

But there is a plan that is starting to be put into action at Arsenal – including potentially the return of Edu as technical director.

And our failure to get into the Champions League once again does give an even greater opportunity for the up and coming younger players, as the group stages of the Europa League, along with the League Cup should provide some of these players some extra games on a bigger stage, through which they can define what contribution they can make to the club.

Raúl Sanllehí noted in a recent interview the high cost of running the academy but added “with rapid inflation in transfer fees it is financially efficient. It’s not about cutting costs or being ‘cheap’, it just means we can then focus funds to make the biggest impact, to get better players when we need to go to the external market.”

And the fact that Freddie made his debut in the first team aged 21 helps make it all seem as if there is a serious plan in place.

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