They are good friends from their time together in the England set-up, but Dan Crowley and Jordan Brown missed out on being club team-mates by a matter of hours this week.
Brown, who impressed for Arsenal at U18 level during his final season as a schoolboy, was offered a scholarship at London Colney, but, after much consideration, opted to turn it down in favour of a move to West Ham United, with the striker completing his move to Upton Park on Thursday.
Less than 24 hours later Crowley secured his protracted move to the Gunners amidst much anticipation, although it is unlikely that the club will officially announce the signing of the midfielder from Aston Villa as he does not turn 16 until August.
Brown’s departure leaves Arsenal considerably light in the striking department at U18 level, especially as Austin Lipman, who was the regular centre-forward throughout last season’s Academy League campaign, will be hoping to step up to the U21s during 2013/14. Several recent trialists, including Mads Thychosen of Denmark and the young Swede Jamaal Raage, are under consideration, but, if a signing is not made in that position then a schoolboy, such as Olufela Olomola or Stephy Mavididi, may receive regular run-outs.
As far as Crowley is concerned, it will be especially interesting to see how he is deployed during his first season at the club. The youngster prefers to operate in an advanced midfield role, which could cause coach Carl Laraman something of a selection problem when the FA Youth Cup comes around, with Glen Kamara, Jack Jebb and Gedion Zelalem also hoping to be involved.
Given that the likes of Chuks Aneke, Kristoffer Olsson and Jon Toral are also on the club’s books, Crowley will face a fight to establish himself in the U21 set-up, despite having featured twice at that level for Villa towards the end of the campaign. However, such is Crowley’s outstanding vision and passing ability, not to mention his impressive scoring record at junior levels, it will be extremely difficult to ignore his numerous talents for long.
Capped nine times by England at U17 level, Crowley’s ability to link play and weave his way past defenders has seen him labelled as one of the country’s outstanding prospects. Arsenal have certainly secured a talented player, but the way in which his first season in North London pans out will be especially intriguing.