Report: Arsenal’s Chris Willock closing in on Benfica move

 

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Arsenal winger Chris Willock is set to join Benfica, where he will play for the Portuguese club’s B team, according to reports.

Willock’s Arsenal contract expires at the end of this month and, although he has been offered a new deal, the 19-year-old hasn’t yet signed an extension.

As reported by Record.pt, Willock has been in Portugal discussing a potential move to Benfica.

The Hale End product has made two senior appearances for the Arsenal first-team, both of which came in the EFL Cup last season.

His brother Joe is also approaching the end of his contract.

Thanks to @RyoCleverfish

U21 Euros- Bellerin helps Spain progress; Chambers involved in England win

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Hector Bellerin played the full game as Spain secured their place in the semi-finals of the U21 European Championship with a 3-1 victory over Portugal.

Bellerin produced an impressive performance and provided a regular attacking threat. The 22-year-old had a shot saved and was involved in the build-up to Saul Niguez’s goal. It was Bellerin’s header that fell to Bruma, who scored a fine goal for Portugal, but overall it was an encouraging display from the Arsenal defender.

Calum Chambers played the entirety of England’s 2-1 victory over Slovakia as the Three Lions kept their hopes of reaching the last four alive. Rob Holding was again an un-used substitute.

Krystian Bielik was an un-used substitute as Poland drew 2-2 with Sweden.

 

What next for Arsenal’s 35 young professionals?

Arsenal have 35 young professionals on their books at present, with the club facing some difficult decisions regarding what the next step should be for each of them going into next season.

Here’s an assessment of what could happen next.

Ismael Bennacer 

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Position: Central-midfield. Age: 19

After impressing on loan at Ligue 2 side Tours in the second half of last season, Bennacer has already stated that he intends to head out on temporary transfer again next campaign, possibly to a top division team in Europe.

Krystian Bielik

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Position: Centre-back. Age: 19

The Polish youth international also excelled on loan last season, producing some excellent performances for Birmingham City. He has been heavily linked with a loan to Norwich City, which could be the final stepping stone before a first-team breakthrough at Arsenal.

Marc Bola

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Position: Left-back. Age: 19

Another player who gained experience elsewhere last campaign, Bola developed well in League Two with Notts County.

It seems unlikely that he will continue playing U23 football so another loan, possibly to a League One club, is a possibility.

Tolaji Bola

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Position: Left-back. Age: 18

Bola has been on the fringes of Arsenal’s U23 squad but, no longer eligible for the U18s, he should step up and become increasingly involved with the second-string next season.

Gedion Zelalem

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Position: Central-midfield. Age: 20

A cruciate ligament injury means that Zelalem will miss much of next season but the talented midfielder will be hoping that the setback doesn’t spell the end of his Arsenal career, with one year remaining on his contract.

Josh Dasilva

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Dan Mullan

Position: Central-midfield. Age: 18

The versatile youngster, who has played in attack, midfield and defence over the past few years, should be an important figure for the U23s and also has a chance of making his first-team debut for Arsenal in one of the cup competitions.

Vlad Dragomir

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Postion: Attacking-midfield. Age: 18

Dragomir has shown his ability in patches in his two years at Arsenal and will hope to excel when afforded more opportunities with the U23s next season.

Aaron Eyoma

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Positon: Right-wing. Age: 19

Having been used sparingly in the Arsenal youth teams, Eyoma enjoyed his loan spell with Volendam’s second string in Holland.

He appears to have no future at Arsenal, however, with a permanent departure a possibility.

Yassin Fortune

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Position: Left-wing. Age: 18

Injuries have disrupted Fortune’s progress during his Arsenal career so far but he showcased what he was capable of in the closing stages of last season.

Next term he will be looking to gain as much playing time as possible for the U23s.

Charlie Gilmour

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Position: Central-midfield. Age: 18

Another prospect whose development has been halted by injuries, Gilmour will also be stepping up to the U23s.

Alex Crean

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Position: Goalkeeper. Age: 17

The goalkeeper is still eligible to play for the U18s and is likely to share the gloves at that level with Joao Virginia.

Crean will also hope to make the bench for the U23s at some stage.

Kaylen Hinds

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Position: Attacking-midfield. Age: 19

Hinds gained valuable experience on loan at Stevenage in League Two and, with his first-team chances at Arsenal likely to be limited, another temporary switch should be in the offing.

Ryan Huddart

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Position: Goalkeeper. Age: 20

Huddart is a talented goalkeeper but his loan spell at non-league Eastleigh didn’t really work out and he remains behind Matt Macey in the pecking order.

Another loan could follow this season, perhaps as a precursor to a permanent move.

Deyan Iliev

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Position: Goalkeeper. Age: 22

The Macedonian goalkeeper hasn’t played for Arsenal for over two years because of a serious knee injury.

Entering the final year of his contract, his aim will simply be to try and return to full fitness.

Chiori Johnson

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Position: Right-back. Age: 19

The youngster is now approaching the stage in his development where he needs a loan spell, although he could stay and play for the U23s for the first half of the season.

Glen Kamara

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Postion: Defensive-midfield. Age: 21

Kamara is surplus to requirements at Arsenal but has a year left on his contract. If a buyer can’t be found then the Finnish youngster is set to be loaned out for the rest of his deal.

Hugo Keto

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Position: Goalkeeper. Age: 19

Keto will be aiming to establish himself as Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper at U23 level next season and he could well achieve that objective if Huddart goes on loan and Matt Macey steps up to the first-team.

Matt Macey

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Position: Goalkeeper. Age: 22

A goalkeeper who is highly rated by Arsene Wenger, there is a possibility that Macey could become third choice for the first-team depending on what happens with others.

If such a scenario does occur then he will have to take up a place on the senior list in the club’s Premier League and Europa League squads.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

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Position: Central-midfield. Age: 19

Fresh from helping England U20s to World Cup glory, Maitland-Niles has been promised further first-team opportunities at Arsenal next season.

The Hale End graduate should receive plenty of playing time in the cup competitions and will also be looking to feature in the Premier League.

Donyell Malen

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Position: Striker. Age: 18

Malen was superb in the second half of last season, catching the eye at U23 and U18 levels.

The Dutchman should be a regular for the U23s and it wouldn’t be surprising if he earned a call-up to the senior squad for some cup games.

Stephy Mavididi

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Position: Striker. Age: 19

After an encouraging start to his loan at Charlton Athletic, Mavididi suffered a hamstring injury that brought his campaign to an abrupt end.

Should he return on schedule, Mavididi should play a part in pre-season before going out on loan again.

Marcus McGuane

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Position: Central-midfield. Age: 18

A player who has developed well rather under the radar, McGuane will be an important part of the U23 side next season and should also train with the first-team on some occasions.

Tafari Moore

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Position: Right-back. Age: 19

Moore gained experience on loan with Utrecht last season, mainly playing for the club’s youth team.

The likelihood is that he will be loaned again.

Savvas Mourgos

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Position: Attacking-midfield. Age: 19

Mourgos endured a frustrating season as he barely featured for Arsenal at youth level and he is likely to gain his first experience of senior football out on loan next season.

Jordi Osei-Tutu

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Position: Right-back. Age: 18

Osei-Tutu has been a regular for the U18s over the last couple of seasons but is no longer eligible for that age group.

The former Reading player should step up to represent Arsenal at U23 level next term.

Julio Pleguezuelo

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Position: Centre-back. Age: 20

Pleguezuelo wasn’t a major part of the Mallorca team for much of the season but he ended the campaign by performing brightly.

Next season he could go on loan again but there is a chance that he could be kept as cover for the first-team in cup competitions.

Ben Sheaf

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Position: Centre-back. Age: 19

A player with a bright future, Sheaf should experience first-team football in some capacity next season, whether at Arsenal or out on loan.

The likely scenario seems that he will remain with the Gunners in January before then heading out on temporary transfer.

Jon Toral

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Position: Central-midfield. Age: 22

After four loan spells away from the club, surely now is the time for a concrete decision to be made on Toral’s Arsenal future.

The Spaniard is undoubtedly a fine prospect but it is questionable whether he will get sufficient chances at Arsenal and a permanent departure may be best for all concerned.

Chris Willock

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Position: Left-wing. Age: 19

With less than two weeks remaining on his contract, it is still unclear whether Willock will still be at Arsenal next season.

If he does stay then he will most probably be involved with the first-team in cup competitions until January before being loaned out.

Reiss Nelson

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Position: Attacking midfield. Age: 17

Still eligible for the U18s, Nelson should instead make his first-team debut next season, with Wenger having said recently that he will be involved with the senior squad.

When not with the first-team, the starlet should continue to feature for the U23s.

Eddie Nketiah

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Position: Striker. Age: 18

The prolific striker should be a regular for the U23s but will also be aiming to be on the fringes of the senior set-up, with a first-team debut certainly a possibility.

Joao Virginia

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Position: Goalkeeper. Age: 17

The Portuguese youngster made some good saves for the U18s last season. He will continue to play at that level and will also be aiming to be involved more frequently with the U23s.

Cohen Bramall

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Position: Left-back. Age: 21

A make or break season for the former Hednesford Town player.

After ending last campaign strongly, Bramall will be aiming to prove that he can make the cut at Arsenal and, as well as playing for the U23s, will hope to feature for the first-team.

The situation is complicated a little, however, by the fact that he would have to take up a place on the already crowded senior list in the club’s Europa League squad if he is to be eligible for that competition.

Kelechi Nwakali

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Position: Attacking-midfielder. Age: 19

After excelling on loan in the Dutch second tier with Maastricht last season, another spell elsewhere seems likely for the talented Nigeria youth international.

Firstly, though, he could spend pre-season with Arsenal.

Dan Crowley

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Position: Attacking-midfielder. Age: 19

The midfielder, once seen as one of Arsenal’s standout prospects, has just one year remaining on his deal.

Crowley impressed while with Go Ahead Eagles in the second half of last season and there have already been suggestions of another loan elsewhere.

 

 

U21 Euros – Chambers features; Holding and Bielik benched


Calum Chambers played the full game as England commenced their U21 European Championship campaign with a goalless draw against holders Sweden today. 

England had goalkeeper Jordan Pickford to thank for saving a penalty from former Arsenal trialist Linus Wahlqvist. 

Chambers made some impressive interventions at the back but his Arsenal team-mate Rob Holding was an unused substitute 

Meanwhile, Krystian Bielik was an unused substitute as hosts Poland were beaten 2-1 by Slovakia.  

Hector Bellerin’s Spain face Macedonia tomorrow. 

Gilmour and Osei-Tutu ready to step up for Arsenal U23s

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They both featured prominently for Arsenal U18s last season but, no longer eligible for that age group, Charlie Gilmour and Jordi Osei-Tutu will be aiming to establish themselves as a major part of the U23 squad in the forthcoming campaign.

Despite being important players as Kwame Ampadu’s team came close to winning the U18 league title, Gilmour or Osei-Tutu have yet to receive a competitive call-up to the second-string side.

That will certainly change next season and, with several players likely to either be sent out on loan or involved with the first-team, there should be plenty of opportunities for both Gilmour and Osei-Tutu to impress.

A talented central-midfielder, Gilmour has an excellent passing range and has improved significantly defensively of late, adding more aggression to his game.

Following a long spell out through injury, the 18-year-old, who has represented both England and Scotland at youth level, produced some encouraging displays for Arsenal U18s and achieved the rare feat during the victory over Liverpool of scoring a hat-trick of penalties.

Osei-Tutu, meanwhile, has been a near ever-present for the U18s since joining from Reading two years ago.

An athletic and strong right-back, the suspicion remains that he is better going forwards than defensively, although he would be well suited to playing as a right wing-back should the U23s mirror the first-team by switching to a 3-4-2-1 formation.

Tafari Moore seems likely to go on loan again and Chiori Johnson could well follow suit at some point, which would enable Osei-Tutu to establish himself as a regular for the U23s.

Arsenal release O’Connor, Da Graca and Pileas

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Arsenal have confirmed that young defenders Stefan O’Connor, Kristopher Da Graca and Kostas Pileas will leave the club when their contracts expire at the end of this month.

O’Connor, who joined Arsenal as a schoolboy from Crystal Palace in 2010, broke into the second-string during his first season as a scholar and went on to make his senior debut against Galatasaray in the Champions League during the following campaign.

The centre-back subsequently had loan spells at York City and Maastricht.

Da Graca arrived at Arsenal as a schoolboy in 2014 and also featured prominently for the club at U23 level.

Pileas signed scholarship terms two years ago and was involved with the U23s early last season but it had been apparent for some time that he would be released.

Rather strangely Glen Kamara isn’t amongst the players who have been let go, suggesting that the Finnish midfielder may have a year remaining on his contract.

Chris and Joe Willock are also out of contract at the end of this month, but the fact that they haven’t been released indicates that it isn’t a foregone conclusion that they will leave.