Seven second-years face pivotal season

There is always an element of apprehension concerning players who enter the second year of their scholarship without having been offered a professional contract by the club, but perhaps the motivation to impress will be even greater on this occasion following the recent cull of youngsters.

As things stand there are currently seven players on the club’s books who signed scholarship terms last summer but have yet to secure their medium-term futures at Emirates Stadium. Five members of that intake have already done just that, with Hale End products Chuba Akpom, Jack Jebb, Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill and Austin Lipman joining foreign recruit Leander Siemann in signing professional deals throughout the course of the campaign.

The remaining seven youngsters of that batch will, then, be desperate to join them in the not too distant future. Midfielder Glen Kamara appears to be a near-certainty for a deal, with the Finland youth international having impressed with his unique blend of tenacity and technique during his maiden campaign for the club, which saw him captain the U18s on several occasions towards the end of the season.

Alfred Mugabo. Picture: BoroYouths

Alfred Mugabo. Picture: BoroYouths

England youth international Alex Iwobi was another who enjoyed a relatively promising campaign, with the youngster adapting well to a new position behind the main striker having previously been regularly deployed on the flanks. He will look to add more goals to his game, having found the net just four times in 25 outings during 2012/13, but, having already featured in the NextGen Series, will surely make his debut for the U21s next season.

Winger Tarum Dawkins, meanwhile, demonstrated glimpses of potential following his high-profile arrival from Luton Town, but, like Iwobi, will seek to improve his return in front of goal during the forthcoming campaign. The versatile Alfred Mugabo, however, seems assured of a deal, with the Rwanda U17 international impressing in a range of positions and in a range of competitions during his first season as a scholar.

Goalkeeper Josh Vickers should be the regular shot-stopper for the U18s this season, with Deyan iliev having now progressed to the U21s. Vickers himself made his second-string debut towards the end of the season, but perhaps the biggest challenges await young defenders Tom Dallison and Arinse Uade, who both missed much of their first full season at the club through injury and will be especially determined to earn an extended stay.


  1. It is quite ridiculous that Leander Siemann has got a professional contract despite playing very little and even when playing failined to impress. On the other hand players like Kamara, Iwobi and Mugabo who have all had decent seasons have not been offered one.

    1. All players brought in from foreign academies are guaranteed pro contracts. That’s why the likes of Bellerin, Olsson, Gnabry, Toral etc sign a pro-contract as soon as they turn 17 -as it was arranged when they first signed. It is very unlikely Siemann will ever be offered an extension as he has failed to impress.

      I’m not sure if this policy is optional, but these players would no doubt be less inclined to join if there wasn’t a guaranteed contract for them.

      I hope Iwobi and Mugabo are offered contracts’s odd how all of the most promising players (minus Bellerin) are players who like playing AM/WING/ST. Very few strong enforcer types or imposing centre backs. This is probably due to the Arsenal’s philosophy of players we should be acquiring.

    2. the thing is when u are bringing a kid over from a foreign country, there has to be an element of promise and guarantee. its a major step for a 15/16 year old to leave home let alone move to another country. Ask yourself would u take an apprenticeship in anything abroad without a professional contract or sponsorship at the end? especially if teams in your own country can offer the same.

      1. I completely agree that when bringing in foreign players we obviously have to give them guarantees that we aren’t just going to send them back after a 2 year scholarship. This brings me to another gripe I have, when bringing in foreign players we should only be looking at the best of the best. This would then reduce the risk of having players on professional contracts when they are quite clearly not good enough. It would also mean that Hale Eend graduate would take up that space for 2 years instead of having an expensive foreign player here for 4.

        It makes absolutely no sense to me why we felt the need to spend 300k on Siemann with a guaranteed professional contract when he quite clearly isn’t a top, top prosepct. We need to first make sure that we are producing top players through Hale End, we then need to make sure that along with those top players we are producing at least 8-10 players good enough for scholarships. This would mean that we can bring in 2-3 TOP CLASS foreign or domestic players withouth the huge risk of them not working out.

      2. Well the academy is a self funding part of the business. How the academy directors (brady and court) spend their budget is up to them it is them who live by the decisions and them who die by them. Perhaps it explains why brady is no longer here and why there has been so much change in the coaching managent set up. It will also.explain why so many players have left in the last 2 years. Perhaps the offer of 4 pro contracts to hale end players and just one non hale end player in the last batch given out is a result of those changes.
        Finally I am sure that the kids brought over are highly thought of but can u imagine our kids getting poached by foreign clubs? Well it doesn’t happen why? Bcos firstly the best are kept here (which I am sure it is what happens elsewhere) secondly our players that miss out are probably not good enough to go elsewhere a thirdly the british mentality is so different. Hell it is even rare to find a twenty something brit playing abroad let alone a kid who is probably still playing on his xbox even in his his twenties.

    1. Yeah he’s a dm. Seemed to have a slow start but ended strongly. Mugabo or perhaps the coaches need to pinpoint mugabo’s position. At present he’s a jack of all trades but master of none. Been deployed at dm, cm, rb and right wing (for Rwanda). Interesting prospect though judging from u17 hgighlights (which have been removed) seems to showboat way too often similar to zaha.

      1. I went to Colney regularly at the start of the season and Kamara was the one player that really impressed me. Very composed but very aggressive in the tackle.

  2. Take a look at Chelsea. They are producing 10+ scholars every year. They then bring in 1-2 foreign players who are top, top class.

    Feruz, Ake, Christensen, Suljic. These are all players that are recognised as the top talents in their countries.

    We seem to like to shop in the bargain bins just to make up the numbers.

    1. with none of the foreign players going to first team and eventually sold later, I don’t think Chelsea is a good example of how academy should be run

  3. I think the comments on here are interesting. Firstly everyone seems to have different opinions on who has played well and who hasn’t. This is the crux of the problem, the Arsenal coaching staff will have their own views and you (the spectator) see things differently. Hence the reason sometimes decisions look strange. Remember at this level they might look impressive, but if they are not carrying out the instructions of a coach or have not taken on board the training then they will be let go.

    As for foreign players – I’m pretty sure our scouting network do not go to find rubbish players, they are looking for what they think are the best. Sometimes these players flourish into excellent players, most however will fall by the way-side.
    Dean – you used the example of Chelsea, but if I’m not mistaken only Ryan Bertrand has been brought through their academy in the first team and he is English. So the argument that they have great foreign youngsters is slightly misleading. They might have some good players at this level, but none have made it through into the first team, which surely is the aim.

  4. They don’t pruposefully go out to find rubbish players but the cream of the crop cost £££££££ so maybe they are looking at cheaper alternatives.

    People like to use this ‘how many players have come through at Chelsea’ line but it’s quite easy to see considering their spend, spend, spend culture coupled with Abromovich’s need for instant success. If you follow youth football closely all the signs are their that Chelsea have arguably the best academy out their. Packed full of ENGLISH talent.

  5. If 3-4 of their best prospects were in our academy right now they would probably have made their comepetive 1st team debuts by now.

    1. You have a point. But lets see who will be making into the first team. We had two great academy teams a couple of years ago only Wilshere is playing regularly, Coq and Frimpong is in the first team but they are not playing a lot. The rest have been sold. Our FAYC team won everything and was THE best youth side england has ever seen. Very few of them got the chance in the national team which could have been dominating internationally and help both Arsenal and england to produce top class quality players.

      In the end its about getting the youngsters sold to a quality team or making the first team. We are giving youngsters time for the first team regularly and is also producing top class players for the first team. Gibbs, wilshere, frimpong and coq is with the first team. I have no doubt 2-3 from the current U21’s can make it too.

      We are better than chelsea and a lot more productive. But I feel some youngsters from Hale end is not given the fair chance to show what they can do in the U18-U21’s

  6. Nope. I am an Arsenal fan and a kean follower of our academy. I can’t see how people don’t see the many problems within our academy. We should be doing a lot better with the resources we have.

    1. I think we have all seen the problems the board included. hence all the changes last season the last 2 seasons clearout and bradys “retirement”

      The thing is fixing the sort of things that need fixing either takes a long time or a billionaires cash. You only have to look at how long spain took to fix their problems. For years they were the chumps of every major tournament yet now they clean up. Arsenal and England have taken note the infrastructures are in place the changes are happening but things will take time unless of course the big russian puts his money where his mouth is and bankrolls the future of our great club. He has the money to donate what we need. Sure he is not the owner but no shareholder is ruled out of making donations to grassroots football and academy football.

      Ball is in your court big man now how about it?

  7. i realy luv and enjoy readin tru dis site, dis is actualy my first post since al dis wile, based on d coments am readin i wil like 2 contribute a litle but much, if u ar talkin of chelsea youth/academy and comparing it with our youht/academy, let me ask this ?, how much had chelsea used in assemblin those kidz 2gether & how much had we spent on ours, a kid be it british or foreign wil only choose a chelsea where he wont get a view or hope of breakin into the first team someday bcos of financial reasons(clueless and less determined kidz who try 2 kill their carears b4 it starts for money) a josh mc eachran in chesea(almost forgoten) cant b compaired 2 a jack wilshere in arsenal, the difference is clear, a team who spendz almost the same amount or more on kidz transfer than some first teamz should b able 2 boast of 2, 3 or mor players whom ar on the way 2 break into the first team or whom wil break in2 the first team year in year out but in chelsea’s case u hear close 2 none, isn’t academy where u ar suppose 2 breed n blood young ones so why must u spend millions of money on kidz whom might reject the offer of a long term stay when they realize you cant give them the chance 2 play first team football, how much does the most expensive kid on chelsea’s reaserve/academy cost dem and how much does ours cost us, lets not 4get dat a youht/academy of a club u wil b regarded as been a success by d numbers of good/exceptional players dat made it into their first team or dat of odaz and not by what they played or achieved while playin wit kidz of same age e.g under 18 (which wil u cal a successful academy between chelsea n southampton, chelsea might hav won alot but southampton has produced more stars compared to chelsea’s none) its beta 2 treat an issue in d right way

  8. I’ve got to say, it is amazing that Stuart Pearce is still in charge of the england u21s. THey look like something out of the 80s. The contrast between England and Spain is as if they are playing different sports.

    1. There are 17 players missing who could have been playing the other night. See Britain’s finest newspaper today for more details (The Mail to the uninitiated).

      Oxlade Chamberalin is just ONE.

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