Mertesacker pleased as Arsenal U21s elect to compete in Checkatrade Trophy

An Arsenal U21 side will compete in the Checkatrade Trophy from next season in another change for the academy setup.

The club had previously turned down the opportunity to participate in the tournament in previous campaigns but new academy manager Per Mertesacker feels that Arsenal’s involvement will be hugely beneficial for the academy players.

This tournament will give youngsters the opportunity to test themselves against senior players from League One and League Two.

Mertesacker told Arsenal.com:

We’re pleased to be entering our Under 21s in the Checkatrade Trophy this forthcoming season.

“We feel it’s important to provide our young players with a variety of experiences in their development and we certainly felt that by entering the Checkatrade Trophy, the players will face different challenges from strong club sides.

“With many of the players in this age group destined to go on loan soon in their careers, the experiences from this competition can act as a very good link between academy and first-team football.”

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Yassin Fortune joins FC Sion after rejecting new Arsenal deal

Yassin Fortune has signed for Swiss side FC Sion in a permanent move after turning down the offer of a new contract at Arsenal.

The Frenchman, who can play out wide or up front, endured a frustrating 2017/18 campaign during which his playing time was significantly restricted.

Fortune joined Arsenal three years ago but leaves without having made a first-team appearance, with injuries having hampered his progress.

Arsenal are waiting to see whether Vlad Dragomir, Josh Dasilva, Tolaji Bola and Deyan Iliev will accept the contracts offered to them.

Arsenal confirm appointment of Freddie Ljungberg as new U23 coach

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Arsenal have confirmed that Freddie Ljungberg will be the club’s new U23 coach.

Ljungberg, who enjoyed an illustrious playing career with Arsenal, helped to coach the U15s and the UEFA Youth League side two seasons ago.

The Swede also gained experience as an assistant coach at Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga, where he worked with former Arsenal academy manager Andries Jonker.

The appointment of Ljungberg means that it is likely that Steve Gatting and Carl Laraman will be leaving, with the pair having been suspended following accusations of bullying.

 

Joel Lopez signing set to solve left-back problem for Arsenal U18s

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Arsenal are reportedly close to signing talented left-back Joel Lopez from Barcelona and if the deal, as expected, goes ahead then it would certainly make plenty of sense.

The 16-year-old has produced some impressive performances for Barcelona at youth level and would go straight into Arsenal’s U18 squad on a scholarship contract which will become a professional deal when he turns 17.

With Dominic Thompson and Tobi Omole, who have both been offered professional terms, no longer eligible for the U18s next season, Arsenal currently have a lack of options at left-back at that level.

Bukayo Saka often plays as a left-back for England at youth level but the starlet, who will sign scholarship terms this summer, is most often deployed as a winger for Arsenal.

Mazeed Ogungbo, who will still be a schoolboy next season, featured for the U18s towards the end of last season but lacks experience, and Lopez would certainly be first-choice if he was to join.

Lopez would also be part of Arsenal’s squad in the FA Youth Cup as the young Gunners look to go a step further than their most recent campaign, when they were beaten in the final by Chelsea.

Arsenal’s U18 squad appears well stocked at present in all positions bar left-back, and the arrival of Lopez would solve that issue, but, more importantly, the Barcelona defender is an excellent prospect for the long term.

A host of prospects have made the move from Barcelona’s La Masia academy to Arsenal in the past. Some, such as Cesc Fabregas and Hector Bellerin, have been rather successful, while others, including Fran Merida, Julio Pleguezuelo and Jon Toral, have found it difficult to carve out a career at Emirates Stadium.

Lopez will hope to push into Arsenal’s U23 squad in the second half of next season and perhaps even train with the first-team if he impresses sufficiently.

In the immediate, term, though, he is a necessary signing to fix a problem position for Arsenal U18s.

Arsenal appoint Lee Herron as head of academy football operations

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Following on from the appointment of Marcel Lucassen as head coach of player development, Arsenal have named Lee Herron as head of football academy operations.

Herron previously spent 17 years with Reading and will form part of the new academy structure involving Per Mertesacker.

Arsenal have also confirmed that appointment of Marcel Lucassen as head of coach and player development.

 

Former Germany youth coach Marcel Lucassen named as Arsenal’s director of football development

Experienced Dutch coach Marcel Lucassen has been named as Arsenal’s director of football development on a three year contract.

Lucassen, who previously did impressive work with the German national team’s youth setup, will be responsible for the development of both the coaches and the players from the U9 squad to the U23s.

As reported by Limburger.nl, Lucassen has signed a three year deal and will start work at Arsenal on August 1st.

Lucassen was the individual coach for technique and tactics for the German FA before moving on to oversee the development of Al-Nasr’s academy.

It is a summer of significant change for Arsenal at academy level, with Per Mertesacker taking over as academy manager, while a new U23 coach is also likely to be appointed soon.