U20 World Cup round-up: Maitland-Niles assists; Zelalem goes off injured

The U20 World Cup in South Korea is well underway and here’s a look at how Arsenal’s two representatives have fared so far.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles – England

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the FA

The prospect came on in the 66th minute as England got their campaign off to a superb start with a 3-0 victory over Argentina.

Maitland-Niles then produced an excellent performance in England’s 1-1 draw with Guinea, providing an assist for Lewis Cook.

The Three Lions conclude their group stage campaign on Friday when they take on the hosts South Korea.

Gedion Zelalem – United States

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Zelalem started the United States’ 3-3 draw with Ecuador but had to be substituted in the 34th minute due to injury.

It isn’t clear whether the midfielder will be able to feature in today’s game against Senegal or Sunday’s fixture against Saudi Arabia.

 

Loan report – Toral and Nwakali score; Asano wins title

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Jon Toral concluded his loan spell at Rangers by scoring and playing 75 minutes in the 2-1 victory over St. Johnstone. He was also booked. The Spaniard made 12 appearances for the club, scoring twice.

Kelechi Nwakali scored in the first leg of MVV Maastricht’s 1-1 play-off semi-final draw against Cambuur and then assisted in the second leg as his loan side won 2-1 to set up a meeting with Roda JC.

Calum Chambers played the full game as Middlesbrough lost 3-0 to Liverpool. He made 24 appearances for the club.

Wojciech Szczesny played the whole game as Roma beat Chievo 5-3.

Julio Pleguezuelo played the full game as Mallorca beat Almeria 1-0.

Ismael Bennacer played 74 minutes as Tours lost 3-2 to Ajaccio. He played 16 times for the club, scoring once.

Takuma Asano was an un-used substitute as Stuttgart beat Wurzburger Kickers 4-1 to win the German second division title. He played 26 games for the club, scoring four times.

Joel Campbell wasn’t involved as Sporting Lisbon took on Chaves. He played 19 times for the club, scoring on three occasions.

Aaron Eyoma wasn’t involved as Volendam lost 2-0 to NAC Breda.

Jack Wilshere missed out through injury as Bournemouth drew 1-1 with Leicester City. He played 27 games for the club.

 

Bennacer: I want to go on loan again, I can’t afford to play for the U23s

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Zimbio

Arsenal midfielder Ismael Bennacer has revealed that he intends to go on loan again next season, stating that he “can’t afford to play in the U23s”.

The 19-year-old has made a significant impact since joining Ligue 2 Tours in January and is open to the prospect of returning to France next season with a Ligue 1 team or alternatively playing in the Spanish top flight.

Bennacer told Onze Mondial: “I have not decided yet. I have an appointment with Arsene Wenger to make an assessment with him.

“I, in my head, would like to be lent another year to continue gaining playing time.

“I am patient, but I also come to an important moment of my career. I can not afford to play in the U23s. If I can be lent a year in Ligue 1 or La Liga, that would be good for my progression.”

Bennacer, who joined Arsenal from Arles-Avignon in 2015, has made one first-team appearance for the Gunners. He has also been capped by Algeria at senior level.

Exclusive: Arsenal to release Savvas Mourgos and Kostas Pileas

Image: Dougie Allward


Arsenal will release youngsters Savvas Mourgos and Kostas Pileas when their contracts expire at the end of next month. 

19-year-old midfielder Mourgos was on trial at Reading recently having been informed by Arsenal that he won’t be offered a new deal. 

The Greek youngster, who joined the Gunners as a scholar in 2014, impressed in some of his fleeting appearances for the U23s this season but has been deemed surplus to requirements. 

Pileas, who can play at centre-back or left-back, will also be let go after two years at the club. 

The Cyprus youth international featured for the U23s and U18s this season but made several errors and wasn’t deemed to be of the quality to make the step up. Pileas has been on trial at Leicester City as he looks to earn a move elsewhere. 

Midfielder Glen Kamara and defender Kristopher Da Graca are also set to be released this summer, while there could be several further departures from the U23 squad. 

Arsenal youth awards – 2016/17

It was a season of mixed fortunes for Arsenal at youth level, with some excellent performances and also some extremely concerning ones.

The U18s came close to winning the league title before finishing second, while the U23s ended up fourth in Premier League 2.

There was disappointment in the UEFA Youth League, however, as Arsenal failed to get beyond the group stages, while the club were eliminated in the 3rd round of the FA Youth Cup.

Here’s a look at some of Arsenal’s best performing youth players this season.

BIGGEST FIRST-TEAM IMPACT – AINSLEY MAITLAND-NILES

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Zimbio.com

There weren’t quite as many first-team opportunities for young players this season as in previous years, but Maitland-Niles, back from a loan spell at Ipswich Town, made a significant impact.

The Hale End product featured in the Premier League away to Sunderland, while he was also prominently involved in the FA Cup and the EFL Cup, with his versatility proving a valuable asset.

BEST U23 PLAYER – REISS NELSON

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Zimbio.com

Ben Sheaf was excellent at the back but it is impossible to ignore Nelson’s contribution.

Despite often being the youngest player in the team, the starlet consistently stood out for Arsenal U23s, scoring six times and providing as many assists.

First-team involvement in some capacity certainly appears to be the logical next step.

BEST U18 PLAYER – EDDIE NKETIAH

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Zimbio.com

Although he broke into the U23s as the season progressed, Nketiah was heavily involved with the U18s this term and, as we have come to expect, was a regular on the scoresheet.

The England youth international found the net 15 times in as many games for Kwame Ampadu’s team.

Other prospects caught the eye including Donyell Malen, Emile Smith-Rowe and Joe Willock.

BEST SCHOOLBOY – TRAE COYLE

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This season was notable for fewer schoolboys featuring for the youth sides than normal but Coyle still managed to impose himself.

Capable of playing as a winger or an attacking midfielder, Coyle was involved for the U18s and in the UEFA Youth League before an injury brought his campaign to an early end.

BEST LOANEE – KELECHI NWAKALI

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Krystian Bielik was excellent for Birmingham City but in terms of performances throughout the season, this award deserves to go to Nwakali.

The Nigerian midfielder possessed no prior experience of European football, yet he quickly established himself as a regular for Maastricht in the Dutch second tier and frequently burst forwards to excellent effect.

 

Loan report – Toral and Pleguezuelo feature; Crowley ends Go Ahead Eagles spell

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Wojciech Szczesny played the full 90 minutes as Roma beat Juventus 3-1.

Calum Chambers played the whole game as Middlesbrough lost 2-1 to Southampton.

Ismael Bennacer played the entirety of Tours’ 4-0 defeat to Le Havre.

Julio Pleguezuelo played the full game as Mallorca lost 2-1 to Real Valladolid.

Jon Toral played 73 minutes as Rangers beat Hearts 2-1.

Takuma Asano was an un-used substitute as Stuttgart lost 1-0 to Hannover 96.

Joel Campbell wasn’t involved as Sporting Lisbon lost 2-1 to Feirense.

Dan Crowley wasn’t involved as Go Ahead Eagles lost 3-1 to Sparta Rotterdam. He made 16 appearances for the club, scoring twice.

Jack Wilshere missed out through injury as Bournemouth beat Burnley 2-1.

Aaron Eyoma‘s Volendam didn’t have a game this weekend but the winger has been impressing for the club’s B team in the fourth tier of Dutch football.

Kelechi Nwakali‘s Maastricht didn’t have a game this weekend.

 

 

Report – Malen scores but Arsenal U18s are held by West Ham in enthralling draw

U18 Premier League

Arsenal 3 (Malen 34, J. Willock (pen) 54, Ballard 67) West Ham United 3 (Henry (pen) 42, Alese 73, Scully 90)

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Arsenal U18s concluded their season with an enthralling 3-3 draw at home to West Ham United today.

Despite taking the lead on three separate occasions, Arsenal were unable to hold on for victory, with Anthony Scully striking late to secure a point for the visitors.

The young Gunners went into the game knowing that their title hopes were already over after Chelsea were crowned champions last night, but Kwame Ampadu’s team were still determined to finish the campaign strongly.

Ampadu made several alterations to his team, with Alex Crean, Daniel Ballard, Charlie Gilmour, Donyell Malen and Robbie Burton coming in for Joao Virginia, Joseph Olowu, Marcus McGuane, Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson.

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Malen

Subs: Benson (for Burton, 71), Thompson (for Dragomir, 82), Omole (for T. Bola, 86). Not used: Virginia, Beckford.

The game took a while to come into life but Arsenal managed to take the lead in the 34th minute when Joe Willock found Donyell Malen, who opened the scoring on his final appearance at this level.

The lead lasted for just eight minutes, however, as Korrey Henry pulled West Ham level from the penalty spot before half-time.

Willock, who has been in sensational form of late, proceeded to make it 2-1 early in the second half with a penalty of his own and then Arsenal looked in pole position to take all three points when Ballard scored his first goal for the U18s.

West Ham showed excellent resilience to bounce back, though, with Ajibola Alese and then Scully getting on the scoresheet in a frantic finale.

Arsenal finish second and will be frustrated to have missed out on winning the title, but they have still performed significantly better overall than they did last season.