Signed scholarship: Summer 2009. Arsenal apps: 0. Subsequent career: Sandnes Ulf.
Upon joining Arsenal as a 16-year-old in 2009, McDermott, a goalkeeper who was born in Norway but is of Irish heritage, made clear his aim to establish himself as the club’s first-choice shot-stopper. It didn’t quite transpire like that, however, as, despite possessing good reflexes, he all too often made costly errors of judgement and struggled to break into the second-string set-up. Having been overtaken by Damian Martinez, McDermott headed on loan to Leeds United in 2012 but didn’t feature for the Elland Road club prior to being released by Arsenal that summer. He has since established himself as a regular back in Norway with top flight side Sandnes Ulf, but, despite the fact that he is now a Republic of Ireland U21 international, those aforementioned errors continue to plague his game.
Signed scholarship: Summer 2002. Arsenal apps: 0. Subsequent career: Ipswich Town, Hartlepool United (loan), Gillingham, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Rushden & Diamonds, Grays Athletic, (loan), Northwich Victoria, Tooting & Mitcham United, Farnborough, Carshalton Athletic, Macclesfield Town, Sutton United, Billericay Town.
A rapid winger who failed to make the grade at Arsenal, McDonald settled at Ipswich Town, making 14 league appearances in the 2005/06 season, but has endured a rather nomadic career since, turning out for no fewer than 12 different teams in the ensuing period. He soon dropped into non-league football, making only a handful of appearances for several clubs, before settling at Farnborough, where he scored 45 times in 90 league outings over two years. McDonald’s impressive form earned him a trial at Swansea City, but the move broke down as the two clubs were unable to agree a fee. Since then, he has continued to operate below Football League-level and has already played for three clubs in this calendar year.
Signed scholarship: Summer 2006. Arsenal apps: 32. Subsequent career: Queens Park Rangers.
Traore is the perfect example of a once-promising player whose talent was perhaps a little over-estimated. A low-key signing from Monaco as a schoolboy in 2005, he found himself in the first-team squad just two years later after making impressive strides in his development. During the 2007/08 season, however, some of the flaws in his game began to become evident, especially during the 4-0 FA Cup defeat against Manchester United, whilst concerns about Traore’s attitude were also raised after the left-back was arrested for carrying knuckle dusters whilst watching the North London Derby at White Hart Lane. He continued to feature intermittently for Arsenal, punctuated by loan spells with Portsmouth and Juventus, but, following Kieran Gibbs’ conversion into a left-back, his chances of succeeding at Emirates Stadium were greatly reduced and he joined Queens Park Rangers on a permanent deal in 2011. He has since established himself as a full Senegalese international despite turning out for France at youth level.
Signed scholarship: Summer 1999. Arsenal apps: 0. Subsequent career: Reading, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Fulham.
Widely regarded as one of the most successful early products of the club’s academy since its reformation, Sidwell has established himself as a Premier League regular without ever scaling the heights of greatness. A two-time FA Youth Cup-winner at Arsenal, he spent time on loan at Brentford, Beveren and Brighton & Hove Albion before departing for Reading in 2003. He made a name for himself during four years with the Berkshire club, earning him a move to Chelsea. However, he would last just one season at Stamford Bridge and, after spending three years with Aston Villa, he is now one of Martin Jol’s key players at Fulham. A former England U21 international, Sidwell has never earned a senior call-up for his country.
Signed scholarship: Summer 2007. Arsenal apps: 2. Subsequent career: Lorient.
A fast and skilful player, Sunu initially struggled to adapt to English life following his move to the club from Chateauroux, but went on to play a major role in the club’s FA Youth Cup and Academy League double-winning success in 2008/09 before featuring in the League Cup the following season. With his hopes of making the first-team dwindling, the France youth international was sent out on loan first to Derby County and then to Lorient in his homeland, with whom he eventually signed a permanent deal two years ago. He has settled in well at the Stade du Moustoir, but his failure to find the net regularly is still a key flaw in his game.