Liam Brady and the Academy coaching staff have made the considerably difficult decisions regarding Arsenal’s scholarship intake for next season, and there were some surprises amongst their choices, with just four Hale End graduates being retained and several others being released.
In addition to midfielder Gedion Zelalem, who will be eligible for the U18s when he turns 16 next month, scholarships have been handed to striker Jordan Brown, winger Ainsley Maitland-Niles, right-back Tafari Moore and goalkeeper Ryan Huddart.
England youth international Brown, who possesses an impressive goalscoring record at schoolboy level, broke into the U18 squad earlier this season, and has made six league appearances at that level, scoring his first goal against West Bromwich Albion recently. He also made an impressive cameo in the FA Youth Cup victory over Newcastle United last week.
Brown is joined by Maitland-Niles, who has featured twice for the U18s this campaign, scoring once, and England U16 internationals Moore and Huddart, who have been on the fringes of the U18 squad this season.
A concrete decision is yet to be made on centre-back Elliott Wright, who also featured against West Brom, but the remaining U16s have been released, including several players who have played for the U18s this campaign. Goalkeeper Ethan Ross, defenders Aaron Barnes, Stefan O’Connor and Dieudonne Longalonga and midfielders Denzeil Boadu, Chris Regis and Lewis Byrne-Hewitt have all been let go in addition to Regan Charles-Cook, although it is worth remembering that these decisions are not set in stone and the club can reverse their choice at any time. Similarly, those players who have been offered scholarships can refuse and pursue their careers elsewhere prior to signing the contract.
Second-year scholars Anthony Jeffrey and Zach Fagan, meanwhile, are continuing to strive for their first professional contracts, whilst several members of the U21 squad see their contracts with the club expire at the end of the current campaign, including recent first-team debutants Jernade Meade and Martin Angha.