Julio Pleguezuelo had to wait over two months for his transfer from Barcelona to be officially ratified by FIFA, but now things are starting to happen very quickly for the 16 year old.
The centre-back made his first official appearance for Arsenal during the U18 Premier League defeat to Reading last weekend, and, despite the disappointing scoreline and overall performance of the team, he impressed with his reading of the game and calmness in possession.
Pleguezuelo has now been added to Arsenal’s UEFA Youth League squad and allocated the first-team squad number of 75, with the youngster set to be involved in some capacity as Steve Gatting’s side take on Borussia Dortmund at Meadow Park this evening.
The Spaniard will receive plenty of further chances to impress at various youth levels this season, particularly after it was confirmed yesterday that fellow centre-back Tom Dallison has ended his stay at the club by signing a professional contract with Championship side Brighton & Hove Albion.
The 17 year old joined Arsenal at the start of last season from West Ham United following a successful trial, but injury restricted him to just seven U18 appearances last season, whilst he accrued another five appearances in the opening weeks of this season, scoring in the first game of the season against Liverpool.
Dallison, however, was well aware that the odds were firmly stacked against him in terms of his chances of earning a professional contract at the club after he failed to earn a call up to either the Youth League or U21 squads.
Regarding tonight’s game with Dortmund, Serge Gnabry is unlikely to be involved after featuring against Dortmund’s senior side as a late substitute in the Champions League, but goalkeeper Josh Vickers, who is currently on loan at Canvey Island, may make the bench in the absence of Ryan Huddart.
Kristoffer Olsson, who missed the impressive victory over Napoli last time out through injury, will return to the side, with Elliot Wright and George Dobson joining long-term absentee Jon Toral on the sidelines.
Arsenal have registered comprehensive victories in each of their two group stage fixtures so far and will be looking for that trend to continue against Dortmund. Olsson’s return presents something of a dilemma for Gatting as he will be forced to drop a player from his starting line-up, with either Alex Iwobi or Austin Lipman likely to be sacrificed.
subs: Vickers, Siemann, Pleguezuelo, Smith, Raage, Lipman, Dawkins.