16-year-old Arsenal goalkeeper Joao Virginia named in Portugal’s Olympic squad


Young Arsenal goalkeeper Joao Virginia has been named in Portugal’s squad for the Olympic Games.

The 16-year-old recently signed scholarship terms with the Gunners after joining as a schoolboy from Benfica last year.

A talented shot-stopper, Virginia has represented Portugal at youth level and was part of the squad the won the U17 European Championships this year, although he didn’t play.

Virginia is one of three Arsenal representatives at the Olympics, joining Serge Gnabry (Germany) and Takuma Asano (Japan).

Virginia’s absence will leave Arsenal short of goalkeepers for the start of the U18 league season, although there is a possibility that Hugo Keto could feature as an overage player.

The Olympics take place from August 3rd to 20th, with Portugal facing Honduras, Algeria and Argentina in Group D.

Virginia will be the youngest player involved in the tournament out of all the Olympic squads.

Holding, Willock and Zelalem make Arsenal squad for United States tour


Arsenal have named their preliminary squad for their pre-season fixtures in the United States, with several youngsters, including Gedion Zelalem, making the cut.

Krystian Bielik and Chris Willock are also in the squad, but there is no place for Matt Macey, who was impressive against Lens last night.

Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Chuba Akpom stay with the squad, but Serge Gnabry hasn’t been named as he is set to represent Germany at the Olympics.

Several additional first-team players are involved, including Rob Holding, who signed from Bolton Wanderers yesterday. Granit Xhaka, Petr Cech, David Ospina, Jack Wilshere and Hector Bellerin are included, as is Gabriel, who missed the Lens game. Wojciech Szczesny isn’t named amidst rumours he’s set to re-join Roma on loan.

Yaya Sanogo isn’t part of the squad, with the striker having also missed out against Lens. However, Santi Cazorla has been included, suggesting that he is back from injury.

There are some notable absentees, with Olivier Giroud, Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Alexis Sanchez not yet back following their international commitments. Takuma Asano, meanwhile, is with the Japan team ahead of the Olympics.

Danny Welbeck and Carl Jenkinson remain out injured.

Arsenal face MLS All-Stars next Friday before taking on Chivas de Guadalajara three days later.

Arsenal preliminary squad for United States tour










Oxlade Chamberlain-Reine Adelaide-Campbell

Zelalem-C. Willock


Gnabry assists and Zelalem features as Arsenal start pre-season with Lens draw


Arsenal came from behind to draw 1-1 away to Lens in their first friendly of pre-season tonight, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain finding the net with a superb lofted finish following good work from Serge Gnabry, who was deployed as a centre forward in the latter stages of the game.

Despite many senior players being absent, Arsene Wenger still named a very strong starting line-up, with the likes of Per Mertesacker, Francis Coquelin, Mohamed Elneny and Theo Walcott featuring from the outset.

Jeff Reine-Adelaide, meanwhile, started against his former club, with Chuba Akpom deployed up front in his first appearance since returning from his loan spell at Hull City.




Walcott-Reine Adelaide-Iwobi


Arsenal, as expected, took some time to find their rhythm, but much of the good work that they did in the first-half involved Reine-Adelaide and Alex Iwobi. Akpom, in contrast, missed a good opportunity early on and struggled to have much of an impact on proceedings.

Theo Walcott was far from at his best, although Mathieu Debuchy made some impressive forays forward from right-back.

Lens went into the break in the lead after disappointing defending from Calum Chambers enabled the French side to score.

Wenger made six alterations at the start of the second-half, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joel Campbell, Kieran Gibbs, Gnabry, Krystian Bielik and Matt Macey all entering the fray, the latter making his first senior appearance for the club.

Macey had to be alert to make a fine save, but Arsenal were more impressive in the second period and started to play with an increased amount of cohesiveness.

Bielik, deployed at centre-back, played some neat passes, although he was caught out on a couple of occasions.

Gnabry struggled to get into the game initially but the German youngster, who has endured such misfortune with injuries in recent seasons, gradually started to make more of an impact and appeared to relish moving up front when the disappointing Walcott was withdrawn.

Arsenal made two further substitutions, with Gedion Zelalem and Chris Willock both coming on. The pair impressed, especially Zelalem, who demonstrated that his ability to play precise through passes is still very much intact.

It was Oxlade-Chamberlain who would score Arsenal’s goal after intelligent link-up play from Gnabry, with the strike ensuring that the Gunners didn’t suffer a defeat in their opening pre-season fixture.

Attention will now turn towards Arsenal’s trip to the United States, with Zelalem particularly eager to be involved. It will be interesting to see which youngsters remain with the squad as the first-team players who were on international duty this summer gradually report back.

Defender Daniel Ballard signs Arsenal scholarship


Young defender Daniel Ballard has signed scholarship terms with Arsenal despite initially being told that he was going to be released by the club.

The 16-year-old centre-back, a product of Arsenal’s Hale End academy, was offered an opportunity to prove himself as a trialist in the recent friendly with Bayern Munich and was subsequently awarded with a two-year scholarship deal.

Ballard becomes Arsenal’s eleventh new scholar, joining Reiss Nelson, Emile Smith-Rowe, Nathan Tormey, Josh Benson, Robbie Burton, Joseph Olowu, Toby Omole. Jay Beckford, Dominic Thompson and Joao Virginia.

Pleguezuelo amongst 11 youngsters to train with Arsenal first-team ahead of Lens game


Arsenal held their final training session today ahead of tomorrow night’s opening pre-season friendly away to Lens.

A host of youngsters were in attendance, with Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Matt Macey, Krystian Bielik, Reiss Nelson, Marcus McGuane, Ben Sheaf, Julio Pleguezuelo, Stephy Mavididi, Matt Macey, Chris Willock and Gedion Zelalem all training with the senior squad.

The game against Lens will be a particularly significant occasion for Reine-Adelaide, who joined the Gunners from the French side last year. Pleguezuelo’s involvement in training, meanwhile, represents the first time he has linked up with the senior squad this pre-season.

Several of the aforementioned players are likely to be involved in tomorrow’s game, where they will be joined by the first-team players that have played a full part in pre-season training so far, namely Emiliano Martinez, Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker, Gabriel, Calum Chambers, Nacho Monreal, Kieran Gibbs, Francis Coquelin, Mohamed Elneny, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alex Iwobi, Serge Gnabry, Yaya Sanogo and Chuba Akpom.

Joel Campbell could also be involved in tomorrow’s fixture. Petr Cech, Jack Wilshere and Granit Xhaka are all at London Colney after their international exertions but aren’t yet ready to play.

Hector Bellerin, David Ospina, Alexis Sanchez and Wojciech Szczesny are due back at the training ground soon, although Olivier Giroud, Laurent Koscielny and Aaron Ramsey won’t return for a little longer.

Danny Welbeck, Carl Jenkinson and Santi Cazorla are all out injured.

Wellington returns to Fluminense- the story of a strange Arsenal career


Wellington’s Arsenal career is officially over after the winger tonight completed a return to Brazilian side Fluminense.

The move is of no surprise and has been in the offing for several weeks, but, upon reflection, the winger’s Arsenal career will go down as being rather bizarre, with Wellington failing to make a single first-team appearance, competitive or otherwise, during his six years at the club.

When details first emerged about Arsenal being interested in Wellington, way back in late 2008, the talk was of a Brazilian starlet who was destined for the big time, with the prospect boasting an enviable array of skills whilst also being able to take on opponents with ease.

He appeared to confirm his potential with some excellent performances whilst on trial with the Gunners, including in one game against Norwich City.

Eventually it emerged that Wellington had signed for Arsenal, although it took the club some time to ratify the deal. Then came the work permit issues, with the prospect having to spend time on loan at various clubs before he could be allowed to play competitively in England.

He barely featured during a spell with Levante before showing glimpses of his talent at Alcoyano, Ponferradina, Murcia and Almeria. Eventually he was granted permission to play in England, but, rather than feature for Arsenal in cup competitions, Wellington was dispatched on loan again, this time to Bolton Wanderers in the Championship.

Again he showcased his potential, but only in patches, and it was hoped that this summer he would finally get the opportunity to prove himself in the Arsenal first-team in pre-season.

As it has transpired, however, he has gone back to Brazil, and, at the age of 23, a concrete decision on his future had been long overdue. He joins the likes of Samuel Galindo and Pedro Botelho in having never represented competitively the club he signed for.

The only glimpses we saw of Wellington at Arsenal were in friendly fixtures. At one game, against Sutton United in 2013, he appeared delighted to be playing for the Gunners and took time before the match to interact with supporters.

Many fans, however, will never get to see Wellington play for the club. A rather strange Arsenal career has reached its conclusion.