Two of Arsenal’s second year scholars, Callum Webb and Steven Smith, have left the club to join Leicester City.
Defensive-minded midfielder Webb, who is a Republic of Ireland youth international, made 27 appearances for the under-18s, scoring twice, and also made two substitute appearances for the Reserves last season.
Smith, meanwhile, has opted to join Leicester following a trial with West Ham earlier in the summer. The versatile Northern Ireland youngster, who can play at centre-back and left-back as well as in midfield, turned out 11 times for Steve Bould’s under-18s last campaign.
Webb and Smith were two of several youngsters who are free to talk to other clubs having not yet been assured of a professional contract at Arsenal when their deals expire at the end of the season. Five members of the considerably large 2010 intake have already turned professional in Martin Angha, Kyle Ebecilio, Elton Monteiro, Zak Ansah and Nigel Neita, and Philip Roberts and Josh Rees are expected to join them shortly, but seven players still remain unsure of their Arsenal futures.
Of those, Jordan Wynter has made both of the Reserve squads so far this season, albeit without playing, and would appear a prime candidate for a pro deal. Goalkeeper Reice Charles-Cook, meanwhile, impressed greatly for the second-string in pre-season, but may not play every game for the under-18s this season with Sean McDermott still eligible to feature at that level as an overage player.
It remains somewhat surprising that the highly-technical playmaker Alban Bunjaku, who made his comeback from injury at the weekend, has yet to be offered a contract, but should he come anywhere near replicating his sublime form of last season then he surely cannot be overlooked. Jeffrey Monakana and Samir Bihmoutine will both be regulars for the under-18s this season and it is their respective performances at that level which will dictate whether they are offered an extended stay at the club. The other two players fighting for their futures are full-backs Ben Glasgow and James Campbell, who both spent much of last season on the sidelines and should be afforded ample game time this time around.