It takes some courage for a 15-year-old not to succumb to the immense media attention which Luke Freeman was subjected to when he first signed for Arsenal in January 2008.
Now, having signed his first professional contract with the club, Luke is finally beginning to demonstrate his credentials and, after a difficult spell midway through last season, he has shown great mental strength to persevere and will surely now be rewarded.
The youngest player ever to play in the FA Cup, Luke’s transfer to Arsenal caught the eye of every major national newspaper in England with many expecting him to make an instant impact in red and white. He showed a glimpse of his qualities during his first half-season with the club, scoring three goals, but only really came to the fore last campaign.
As soon as he notched a brace on the opening day of the season for the u-18s against Everton, you expected Luke to go on and enjoy a goal-littered season. It didn’t quite work out that way, with an unhappy spell on the left-wing contributing to his darkest days at the club.
Yet, in the second half of the season, he really shone, forging a lethal partnership with fellow marksman Benik Afobe for both club and country. The pair dominated proceedings in the Premier Academy League and also whilst on duty for England u-17s.
Freeman ended the season with eleven goals and also made appearances in the FA Youth Cup and for the Reserves.
He has been one of the most impressive youngsters in pre-season training this summer, and has transferred that good form to matches too. He shone in the recent Toomey Trophy and also found the net against Maidenhead for the Reserves, not to mention a classy quartet against Plymouth in an under-18s friendly.
His physical strength has improved immensely and he now works harder to bring other players into the game. Against Boreham Wood on Tuesday night, Freeman changed the dynamic of the Arsenal team when he came on and would have broken the deadlock but for a last-ditch clearance off the goal-line.
Some may have tipped him for the Carling Cup this season but, at the moment, that is unrealistic. His long-term future at the club is secure with the signing of his contract and he can now develop at his own pace. He has now improved in his wing-play which is another string to his bow and could aid his first-team opportunities in the future as it is well documented that Wenger likes his youngsters to be versatile.
Luke will start this season in the u-18s and will aim to end it as a regular in the Reserves. That will, of course, depend on the progress of other strikers as well as his own, but the signs are certainly promising.
freeman vs afobe vs watt vs ansah vs murphy… who has the most potential? Are any potentially world stars or just good prem players?
Afobe is our most talented u-18 striker
jay Simpson leaving on loan again with celtic a possible destination
I havent really seen Freeman play 90 mins i have seen him for like 20mins for England. I think hes a better player than afobe he seems to be a natural goal scorer. He looks a good dribbler can go inside or out and doesnt give the ball away
Luke is on course, give him 2-3 year to make the breakthrough to the C.C. squad to really gauge his long term talent. I see him and rhys murphy battling it out, one might cut it here at Arsenal. Nevertheless, I like the striking prospects coming through the academy.
I can’t understand the logic in letting Merdia leave. He’s impressed in the Emirates cup and he provides cover for Nasri and Rosicky who are both now injured. It leaves our options on the left wing as Vela, Wilshere, Traore and Diaby. Vela nd Diaby have played no part in pre-season, to me Traore is a left back, which just leaves Jack. Obviously we know Wilshere has an unbelievable amount of potential but would he be able to stand up to the intensity of the 2 Premier Leaguie games a week? Surely keeping Merida around would provide us with another option. As for Simpson, I really don’t think he possess’ the ability to be an Arsenal player. I think he’ll be gone permanently sooner rather than later.