Transfers

Pleguezuelo in London to finalise Arsenal move

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Promising young defender Julio Pleguezuelo Selva has spent the weekend in London ahead of the completion of his move to Arsenal for the forthcoming campaign in a deal that will see him become the third new signing already this summer for Carl Laraman’s U18 side.

The deal involving Pleguezuelo, who has been called up by Spain at U16 level and has worked his way through the ranks at Barcelona’s La Masia Academy, has been mooted for several months, and it now appears that the player, who turned 16 in January, will put pen to paper on a scholarship deal which will automatically turn into a professional contract when he turns 17.

The youngster, who can operate at right-back or centre-back, will provide Laraman with a much-needed defensive option ahead of the new campaign, but, following in the footsteps of fellow Barcelona graduates Hector Bellerin and Jon Toral, will be hopeful of progressing into the U21 set-up before his first season in North London reaches its denouement.

Pleguezuelo joins midfielder Dan Crowley, who was plucked from Aston Villa, and striker Jamaal Raage, who signed from IF Brommapojkarna at London Colney, and will report for training early next month.

Arsenal secure deal for Swedish striker Raage according to reports

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Arsenal have completed the signing of Swedish striker Jamaal Raage from IF Brommapojkarna, according to the player’s agency.

Raage, who turned 16 in January and has scored two goals in four appearances for the Sweden U15 side, was one of several players who trialled with the club midway through last season and, after making a strong initial impression, was invited back to London Colney for further assessment.

He has now secured his move to North London and will form part of the club’s scholarship intake for the forthcoming campaign, acting as a direct replacement for Jordan Brown, whose move to West Ham United was officially confirmed today.

Raage is already familiar to many of Arsenal’s youngsters following his trial and is close friends with his compatriot Kristoffer Olsson, who made the move from Sweden to England two years ago and is now one of the club’s key players at U21 level.

Raage is Arsenal’s second signing at youth level following the high-profile acquisition of Dan Crowley from Aston Villa earlier this month, and is likely to be joined at the club next season by Barcelona defender Julio Pleguezuelo Selva, who is close to finalising his move.

With Chuba Akpom already firmly installed as part of the U21 set-up, Raage will provide competition for Austin Lipman in the U18s next season, whilst schoolboy strikers Kaylen Hinds, Olufela Olomola and Stephy Mavididi may also receive run-outs on occasion.

*News via @GoonRambler

Raage can be seen scoring a goal from around 1:02 in the video below:

Arsenal release Randall and Cruise, with Hoyte and Murphy the most prominent candidates to join them

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Arsenal have begun the process of reducing their large number of young professionals by releasing Mark Randall and Thomas Cruise.

The departures of Randall and Cruise aren’t exactly shocks to the system, with both players failing to establish themselves over a sustained period of time and enduring difficult loan spells last campaign.

Randall was thrust into the first-team limelight during his first-season as a scholar, in 2006/07, and went on to make 13 appearances for the club, including the Premier League game away to Sunderland in 2007/08 and away to Portsmouth a year later. He also featured in Champions League fixtures against FC Twente and Porto but, following the signing of Aaron Ramsey, was increasingly edged out of the first-team picture, as mirrored by the downward trajectory of his loan spells.

Having spent the second half of the 2007/08 season on loan at Burnley in the Championship, he spent a spell with hometown club MK Dons in League One last season before a rather fruitless stint at Rotherham United in League Two this season, where he was often omitted from the matchday squad. He will now seek to re-build his career and, given that he has played, albeit fleetingly in Europe and in the Premier League, he should receive several offers for his services.

Cruise’s departure comes at the end of a season which has been an altogether frustrating one punctuated by an injury which required surgery and a loan spell at Carlisle United which did not significantly enhance his development. A member of the 2008/09 FA Youth Cup and Premier Academy League-winning side,  he leaves with a solitary first-team outing to his name, the Champions League group stage defeat to Olympiacos last season.

Randall and Cruise’s departures add to those of Roarie Deacon, who was on trial at Sunderland recently, and George Brislen-Hall, who was not offered a professional deal following the expiry of his scholarship.

It is somewhat surprising that there have not been further departures as yet, with Gavin Hoyte and Rhys Murphy also prominent candidates to be released. Hoyte, though, is currently recovering from a long-term injury sustained whilst on loan at Lincoln, whilst Murphy is expected to go on loan again next season.

Arsenal complete Toral and Bellerin deals

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Arsenal have completed the signings of Barcelona youngsters Jon Toral and Hector Bellerin on five-year deals, according to Sky Sports. 

Midfielder Toral was signed amid some controversy earlier this season, whilst striker Bellerin is likely to feature for the under-18s next campaign. They add to previous signings Serge Gnabry, Kristoffer Olsson and Leander Siemann.

Coaching staff row the final straw as Carruthers sets his sights on Cottagers

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Arsenal midfielder Samir Carruthers is set to tie up his proposed move to London rivals Fulham later today but he didn’t exactly leave the Gunners on the best of terms.

Having made his debut for Steve Bould’s under-18 side in the slender victory over Watford a fortnight ago, Carruthers was expected to be in the squad for Aston Villa’s visit to London Colney.

However, 14 year-old Jordan Wynter was preferred instead and Carruthers was dropped to the under-16s.

Carruthers was understandably disappointed with his demotion and his anger was boiling up inside. However, instead of venting his frustration by putting in a decent performance, he turned on the Arsenal coaching staff who were unhappy at the way in which he was wearing his footwear.

What began as a petty argument soon developed into a fullscale confrontation with the two parties engulfed in a war of words.

The coaching staff had seen enough and Carruthers was sent inside and didn’t even speak to his teammates at the final whistle.

Just 48 hours later, he was off to Motspur Park to finalise his move across London and attempt to abolish all memories of his disastrous conclusion to life at Arsenal.

Fonte scores for Portugal and Randall talks up loan spell

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Arsenal striker Rui Fonte scored the winner as Portugal U21′s beat Madeira 1-0. Fonte, who is currently on loan at Crystal Palace, turned in Fabio Coentrao’s header in the second-half.

Elsewhere, Gavin Hoyte played the whole game as England U19′s were held to a 0-0 draw by the Czech Republic at Walsall’s Banks’s stadium.  Hoyte was solid throughout and was Arsenal’s only representative in the fixture after captain Henri Lansbury pulled out at short notice through injury.

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In other news, midfielder Mark Randall has been talking about the possibility of a loan spell. In an interview with Arsenal.com, he said “It’s good to know that Neil [Banfield] can trust me and he has given me a big responsibility being captain of his team, but I need to be looking to push on.”

Many criticised his performance during the goalless draw with Chelsea and, with first-team opportunities at Arsenal limited, a loan spell would be the obvious option.

Today he was linked with a temporary switch to Championship side Blackpool which could help him to get some more consistency in his game.

Arsenal target Per Ciljian Skjelbred

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 skjelbred_590434.jpgSkjelbred: Target

Rosenborg midfielder Per Ciljian Skjelbred is reportedly a target for Arsenal, although many other clubs have expressed interest in him, including, suprise, suprise Tottenham. He is still young and would cost a lot of money (around £5 million) but with Flamini reportedly stalling on contract talks, he could be worth it.

West Ham to provide stiff opposition

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Arsenal u-18s look to get back to winning ways as they take on West Ham at London Colney tomorrow. Having lost 1-0 at Anfield in Wednesday’s FA Youth Cup tie the Gunners haven’t won for three matches, having lost their previous two League games. Hopefully we’ll see some more of Luke Freeman tomorrow. He didn’t really have many chances to score against Ipswich last week. There was one opportunity, the ‘keeper made a mistake and the ball fell to Luke but he didn’t have as much time as he thought and he scuffed his shot. We can’t put any pressure on the lad at the moment, he’s still only fifteen! He does look a real prospect though, otherwise Wenger wouldn’t have worked so hard to sign him. It looks like Lansbury and Wilshere will still be out, whilst Rui Fonte is out for three weeks with a broken nose. So it should be a similar team to the one that played last week. It would be good to see Jonas Rasmussen play because I haven’t seen much of him so far, he looks like a decent player who can hold the ball down and win battles in the air although I don’t really know too much about his finishing ability. So it should be a good game tomorrow, anyone else going?

 In other news, Kieran Gibbs talks about his loan spell. Hopefully he plays regularly there and becomes a better player for it. Meanwhile, Mark Randall will wear the number ten shirt at Burnley, so that implies that he will be an important player for them. Anyway, we’ll see come the end of the season.

Okay, now for the loanees weekend preview:

Mark Randall- West Brom v Burnley

Hopefully Mark will make his debut in this game and it would be nice to see him get on the scoresheet.

Kieran Gibbs- Norwich v Preston

Gibbs will be hoping to make his debut tomorrow at Carrow Road.

Jay Simpson- Millwall v Doncaster

Jay should start again and will be hoping to find the net.

Carlos Vela- Barcelona v Osasuna

Carlos will be hoping to start this big fixture.

Fran Merida and Pedro Silva will also be hoping to feature in Spain, whilst Vincent van den Berg is out injured.

Randall and Gibbs go on loan

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It’s transfer deadline day and Mark Randall and Kieran Gibbs have both joined Championship sides on loan.

Randall will spend the second half of the season at Turf Moor, with Burnley, who he scored against in the FA Youth Cup 3rd Round.

Gibbs has  joined Norwich City  until the end of the season. Gibbs, who has featured for the first-team in the Carling Cup this season will gain valuable experience from this move.

Obviously it will be good experience for the lads and also it will leave a gap in our Reserve team. It will allow some of the younger lads to push on and see whether they can stake a claim in the Reserves. For me, Randall’s loan spell was long overdue. He needs to show that he isn’t just an ordinary player and he can prove that by playing week in, week out for Burnley, which I’m sure he will. As for Gibbs, it will be interesting to see how he does and if he can force his way into Arsene Wenger’s thinking when he returns.

There’s still time for more transfers to be completed, so watch this space.

In other news, Emmanuel Frimpong and Oliver Nicholas have been named in the latest England u-16 squad. They’ve both recently agreed scholarship deals and look like decent prospects.

Thanks for reading, and there will be more tomorrow.

Have the u-18s got what it takes?

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So now we have it. A face-off between two of the best academies in the country in the Fourth round of the FA Youth Cup. Arsenal came so close to meeting Liverpool in last season’s competiton but were denied by a late Manchester United goal in the semi-final at Old Trafford. Now they finally go head to head at Anfield tonight.

Liverpool’s youth squad is very different to the side that has won the last two competitions back to back. There are lots of younger lads in their academy now, but they are no less talented. The likes of striker David Amoo for example, cannot be ignored. And then there is the fact that Liverpool have home advantage and there’s sure to be a few of their supporters in the ground cheering them on. Even at this level, the prospect of playing at Anfield is very daunting indeed.

On the Arsenal side of things, it seems we are without Henri Lansbury, who has a glandular problem. Also Rui Fonte is out for three weeks with a broken nose, and Jack Wilshere is out too. On the plus side, we should see Nacer Barazite back, but the absence of Lansbury is key. Not only did he score a hat-trick in the last round but many of our passing moves flow through him and he is difficult to close down.

Paul Rodgers says the entire squad wanted to draw Liverpool, which says something about the immense self-belief and determination of the lads.

On the transfer front, rumours persist about Edin Dzeko, whilst it also appears that we are considering the option of QPR youth ‘keeper Liam O’Brien, who played for the u-18s on Saturday. Luke Freeman and Sam Byles also made their debuts in that game.

So, with kick-off nearing all we can do is hope for a result and it’s hard to predict an Arsenal win, but anything is possible in football.