Arsenal have today tied down two of their most promising prospects to new deals.
Striker Zak Ansah, who turned 17 three weeks ago, has signed his first professional contract having been rewarded for a season that, although decimated by a shoulder injury, demonstrated his potential and his clinical nature in front of goal, with the England under-17 international scoring five times in just eight Premier Academy League starts, whilst also breaking into the Reserve team and impressing at the Dallas Cup.
Ansah has been strongly linked with a loan move to Charlton Athletic next season, a club at which his father, Andy, has close links. In signing his deal, Ansah becomes the fourth member of the 2010 intake of scholars to turn professional, following Martin Angha, Kyle Ebecilio and Elton Monteiro. Josh Rees and Philip Roberts, who was signed from Norwich City, are expected to follow shortly, whilst the remaining scholars are likely to have to wait until next summer for their futures to be determined.
Oguzhan Ozyakup has also committed his future to the club by signing a new two-year deal. The Dutch midfielder was expected to leave Arsenal after talks stalled on a new contract but, following assurances from the club, he has decided to continue his footballing education at London Colney and could be one of many Gunners youngsters to go out on loan next season, in what will be his fourth campaign at the club.
Arsenal u-16s may have been the victims of a 4-0 defeat by Norwich City on Saturday morning, but that performance wasn’t like them at all. Norwich have one of the best u-16 sides in the country and Arsenal were without their captain Conor Henderson, as well as Sam Byles who were on the bench for the u-18s. Here’s a look at some of the brightest prospects from this level.
Benik has come to many Arsenal fans attention due to his impressive scoring record for the u-16s this season. His pace and strength are his main attributes and he will be looking to push on to the u-18s next term.
Chucks may not be as well known as Benik Afobe, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a decent footballer. A central midfielder, he is capable of breaking up attacks as well as releasing team mates.
Having agreed to sign scholarship forms in the summer, Rorie will finish this season playing for the u-16s. His long balls are always a threat and he has come close to scoring a few times in recent weeks.
Full-back Ben made his u-16s debut this season and will be looking to continue his development in 2008/9
Attacking full-back George Brisnal is a tough tackling, no-nonsense player who loves to get forward and has scored for the u-16s this season.
As revealed exclusively on this blog, Charlie is set to be the u-16s no.1 goalie next season and has been likened to Kasper Schemichel.
Jeffrey has risen through the Hale End academy system and is now heavily involved in the u-16s. You can read more on him here.
Centre-half Rhema has forged a solid partnership with Oliver Nicholas at the back and has represented England at youth level.
So there you have it, and there are many more beyond that but I can’t list them all.
Note that the list doesn’t include players who have played for the u-18s such as Cedric Evina, Luke Freeman, Oliver Nicholas, Jonas Rasmussen, Sam Byles and Conor Henderson. Nor does it feature players set to be released such as Ahmed Abdulla and Nico Yennaris.
With no more matches until the weekend, here’s a summary of the latest news stories concerning the Arsenal youngsters.
A couple of other stories today:
Thanks for reading and there’ll be more tomorrow.
Head of youth development Liam Brady has revealed that he has been allowed to leave Arsenal on a part-time basis to become the assistant coach for the Republic of Ireland. However, Brady will continue to work at Arsenal, saying
I spoke with Arsene and he’s more than happy for me to take up a role with Ireland as long as I don’t feel that it’s going to interfere with what I do at Arsenal
Remember, we brought you the news FIRST that Trappatoni wanted Brady as his assistant earlier this month.
We have two Under-14s players I watched play and technically they have nothing to learn.
Remember those words from Arsene Wenger ahead of the Birmingham game last month? Since then, there has been much speculation over who the two youngsters could be. One site speculated that u-16s players Benik Afobe and Chucks Aneke were the players Wenger was referring to. However, we can exclusively reveal that one of the youngsters is Zac Ansak (circled, pictured here with the Arsenal u-10s side in 2003). He has been at Arsenal since the age of nine and is highly regarded by the Hale End coaching staff. He will hope to push on to the u-16s next season. As for the other youngster, well there’s no confirmation but there’s a rumour it could be Anton Morgan.
On another note, I wish Eduardo well after the injury he picked up against Birmingham today. The pictures were truly disturbing and Sky wouldn’t even show the replay again. It makes you stop and think about things when something like that happens.
It appears that the signing of young Cornella left-back Ignasi Miquel has been completed, remember we broke the news here first on Wednesday that Arsenal were interested in him before the news was picked up by other sites. He certainly seems a decent prospect and will look to get his fair share of u-18 games next season.
Arsenal have also been linked to Sporting Lisbon defender Miguel Veloso, but will face competition from Man.Utd and Fiorentina. It seems we’re very keen on signing defenders which means that quite a few of the current crop could be released in the summer.
Fran Merida says that he’s not thinking about Arsenal at the moment and that he’s fully committed to playing for Real Sociedad at the moment. He is still likely to return to Arsenal in the summer though and hopefully he can make the first-team breakthrough next season. Which brings us to this weekend’s loanees preview.
Mark Randall- Plymouth v Burnley
Burnley return to competitive action this week as they take on Plymouth. Mark is still waiting for his first competitive start for the Clarets and is likely to be on the bench this afternoon.
Kieran Gibbs- Norwich v Barnsley
Kieran has failed to impress Norwich fans in the short time that he’s been there- but he hasn’t been given a chance! Hopefully he’ll prove them wrong today, although he may have to settle for a place on the bench.
Jay Simpson- Millwall v Port Vale
Jay is now an integral part of the Millwall side, but the Lions need to start picking up points quickly if they don’t want to fall back into the relegation zone.
Fran Merida- Elche v Real Sociedad
Fran remains commited to the cause at Real Sociedad but has been frustrated due to his lack of games recently. He should be on the bench against Elche.
Carlos Vela- Osasuna v Atletico Madrid
Carlos should start against Atletico Madrid as he looks to get back amongst the goals.
Pedro- Salamanca v Tenerife
Pedro is injured and is unlikely to feature for Salamanca against Tenerife.
Vincent van den Berg- Go Ahead Eagles
Vincent scored on his return in a reserve match, but is unlikely to feature this weekend.
Reserve ‘keeper Vito Mannone was in splendid form last night against Reading as he made a superb last-minute penalty save to deny Shane Long. Vito denied Long and Lita on several occasions and was voted the man of the match. Early on in the season, he looked a little shaky, especially when dealing with shots from long range. Now though, he is brimming with confidence and is one of the oldest players in the Reserve team. He has been on the bench for the first team in the Carling Cup this season and a string of impressive performances in the Reserves has impressed Arsene Wenger. With Jens Lehmann set to leave the Club in the summer, there will doubtless be speculation that Arsenal need to buy another goalkeeper. But why should they, when Vito could easily become third choice. There are rumours that he could go out on loan next season and Vito has already experienced life on temporary leave from Arsenal.
At the start of last season, he joined Barnsley on loan and after a couple of good performances in training, he won a place in the starting XI. However, things didn’t go to plan for Vito as he made several mistakes and let in many easy goals. He returned to Arsenal to become no.1 reserve ‘keeper and put his memories of Barnsley firmly in the back of his mind. He played a couple of pre-season games for Gretna in the summer and looked as if he was going to join the Scottish side on loan but Arsene Wenger stepped in and indicated that he would rather Mannone stay at Arsenal as he wanted him to be part of the Carling Cup side.
After an impressive season so far, the ball is now firmly in Mannone’s court. Should he stay at Arsenal and secure his place in the first-team squad and perhaps feature in the Carling Cup, or should he take a risk and go out on loan hoping to avoid a repeat of his Barnsley nightmare and watch as a new goalie takes his place at Arsenal? The decision is up to him.
Another day, another youngster linked. This time it’s fifteen year old Cornella midfielder Ignasi Miquel. The Spanish u-16 international was released after five years of playing at Barcelona as they didn’t recognise his potential, but now he is shining at Cornella and Arsenal are poised to snap him up. As ever, Arsenal aren’t the only team interested in him, Manchester United and Valencia are both reportedly keen, but this wouldn’t be the first time that Arséne has tapped into the transfer market for a talented young Spaniard.
Picture from Stockport County official site
Arsenal have today been linked to Stockport County youngster Tommy Rowe. The eighteen year old came through the youth ranks at the club and hit the headlines with a hat-trick away to Rotherham. His manager Jim Gannon has said that Tommy has the potential to go on to play for England one day and that a move to a bigger club is inevitable. Arsenal scouts are now said to be interested in signing the youngster, although Tottenham are looking at him as well. He is a left-winger and that is a problem position for us at the moment. He would probably need a season or two with the Reserves to settle in and by then he could be good enough to play in our first-team. Or he could just be another hyped-up youngster, although his manager’s comments suggest otherwise.
Name: Tommy Rowe
Age: 18 (D.O.B. 01/05/89)
Height: 5ft 11in
Club: Stockport County
With Jens Lehmann set to leave the Club in the summer, it could be the chance for the young Arsenal ‘keepers to shine. Read on for an in-depth look at the Arsenal goalscoring situation.
Well, this season the competition to be Arsenal’s number one goalkeeper has been as fierce as ever. Jens Lehmann was dropped after a couple of early-season howlers and was swiftly replaced by Manuel Almunia, who has been in terrific form this season. Summer acquisition Lukasz Fabianski also impressed in the early rounds of the Carling Cup, although he looked out of his depth against Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Lehmann should leave in the summer and many would expect Arséne Wenger to scour the transfer market for a possible replacement. But with Almunia doing well for now, then would Wenger have enough faith in Vito Mannone to promote him to the first-team squad?
Mannone arrived at Arsenal in the summer of 2005, and after a season of settling in made the breakthrough to the reserves. He started last season on loan at Barnsley, where he had a horrendous time conceding simple goals and was made to look like a fool by some of the opposition players. However, Vito returned to Arsenal and swiftly made the position as the number one Reserve ‘keeper his own. He has reached new heights this season, and even featured on the bench in the Carling Cup. He is comfortable from long range efforts but sometimes he spills simple shots that can create opportunities for the opponents. Wenger certainly likes him though and Vito is agile and also has good kicking skills. Next season Arsenal will have to make a decision on him, whether to send him out on loan, or to promote him to the first team squad.
Following in Vito’s footsteps is the young Polish goalie Wojciech Szczesny. Wojciech signed a professional deal last summer and although his first-season was mainly spent on the bench it was important for him to get to know his new team-mates. This year he has gone from strength to strength. He is now the regular ‘keeper for the u-18s and has also made two substitute appearances for the Reserves. His tall presence makes him difficult to beat from distance, although his kicking ability needs some working on. Another problem area for Wojciech is communication. Hailing from Poland, he is not yet fully fluent in English and sometimes finds it difficult to issue instructions to his team-mates. However, he is a fantastic shot stopper, and made a string of fantastic saves against Liverpool in the FA Youth Cup fourth round defeat at Anfield. He will be too old to feature in the u-18s next season and could stake a claim to be Reserves keeper if Vito goes out on loan or is promoted to the first-team squad.
Young Irish ‘keeper James Shea has made the breakthrough to the u-18s and signed scholarship forms early in the season. Despite a shaky start, where he was easily beaten on a couple of occasions, James has turned out regularly for the u-16s this season and his performances are starting to pick up. He has trained with the first-team on several occasions and looks set to be a regular starter for the u-18s next season.
Earlier this week, we brought to your attention the progress of Charlie Mann, the young ‘keeper who has been likened to Kasper Schemichel. He still has a long way to go but should be able to hold down the position of u-16 ‘keeper next season and is already taller than James Shea which gives him an advantage. As I have said previously, he may even get a couple of games in the u-18s next season.
So, 2008 is a massive year for Arsenal goalkeepers. All of them have their own specific goals to achieve and the fact of the matter is, whoever comes through the next seven months or so the strongest, will have a great chance of cementing their place in the Arsenal first-team in the next few years.
Giovanni Trapattoni has been unveiled as the new Republic of Ireland manager, and he wants Liam Brady as his assistant. Brady, who was a hero at Arsenal and Juventus in his playing days is the current head of youth development at Arsenal and has been responsible for the nurturing of players such as Justin Hoyte, Nicklas Bendtner and Matthew Connolly. However, Trapattoni has revealed that he would like him as his assistant, saying
“I am hopeful Arsene Wenger will let Liam do the job as well as his Arsenal commitment,”
“I knew Liam as a player and I asked him if it was possible for him to work with me a bit.
“He speaks good Italian and he knows the players. We can work together but not all the time because Liam has a good job at Arsenal.”
If Brady were to take the job, he would still be head of youth development at Arsenal as well as fulfilling his new role. But would it have a negative effect on our youth team?