Hayden reaping the benefits of rapid progression


First impressions are said to be very important, but in the case of Isaac Hayden that sentiment does not necessarily ring true. The first time that many followers of youth football saw the youngster in action was during his debut for England U16s against Wales three years ago. Hayden delivered a disappointing performance and was withdrawn at half-time, but his progression in the ensuing period has been nothing short of meteoric.

Now 18, Hayden has achieved international recognition with England up to U19 level, but it is his achievements on the domestic front that have been the most eye-catching, with the versatile youngster having made his first-team debut for Arsenal this season whilst also making the substitutes bench in the Premier League and the Champions League.

It has been clear for some time that manager Arsene Wenger has been impressed with Hayden’s development, with the Frenchman inviting the youngster to train with the first-team on several occasions in the second half of last season. Now, despite his tender age, Hayden is becoming increasingly involved in the senior set-up, and, at present, is being preferred to Emmanuel Frimpong for a place on the bench.

Source: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images Europe

Source: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images Europe

That aforementioned performance for England U16s seems part of the distant past now, with Hayden having asserted his credentials as a young player brimming with potential whether he is deployed at centre-back or as a defensive-midfielder. He possesses the vaunted qualities of being able to break up play and distribute the ball to his team-mates with ease, and, although he is not the most elegant in possession, the former Southend United youngster is a superb reader of the game.

There are still some flaws that need ironing out, however, most notably his tendency to launch into over-zealous challenges at times. For instance, he was rather fortunate to escape with just a caution for a lunging tackle on Youssouf Mulumbu during his senior debut against West Bromwich Albion, but everything else that Hayden did that night at The Hawthorns oozed class.

He is expected to remain with the senior side for this week’s trip to face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League and, although it is unlikely that he will enter the field at Signal Iduna Park, the experience that he has gained whilst travelling and training with the first-team will doubtless prove hugely beneficial as his career progresses.

In the next couple of years a firm decision will need to be made regarding what his best position will be in the long-term, whilst, if he continues to progress, he should be something of a regular in the Capital One Cup side next season before potentially heading out on loan after that.

For now, though, Isaac Hayden can be content with his rapid progression over the past few years.

11 comments

    1. Hayden, Gnabry, Eisfeld, Ryo, Bellerin, Olsson and Akpom all played some part against West Brom. An easier draw than Chelsea in the next round would probably have seen most of them involved again.

  1. I still think his best position is centre back. But Wenger seems to prefer playing him in the midfield. Let’s see how he develops.

  2. Very interested in this player as, not only is dm a position second only to striker in the need- for-strengthening dep, I’d love to see a/some home-grown players make it who are especially strong and tenacious (to complement all the skillful players we have at youth and senior level)

    Still struggling to accept that it doesn’t look good on the Aneke front. (Built like Toure and capable of great long-shots off either foot, as well as excellent through-balls. Oh well!)

    Also keeping a close eye on Ajayi and Mugabo with this in mind. Am I right to have hopes for those two, Jeorge, and is the latter injured again?

    1. Mugabo has already taste senior football for a while. He is very good and similar to Hayden. We have no doubt good prospects coming up with Hayden, Mugabo, Yennaris and Frimpong as DM. Kamara is another good DM. I truly believe jebb could be a good box to box player like Arteta is.

      We are strong in the DM area and attacking midfield for sure. Özil is proving us that you don’t need to be the fastest winger on planet to be a good wide player. Football is adapting all the time and the way we play is fast pace link up play and movement all the time. Thats more important than fast pace with and without the ball.

      atleast two surely will make it from the current U21 I think. Fingers cross Akpom, Afobe, Ansah or Lipman will make it as a striker.

      uefa youth tournament for u19 helps develop a lot. wish there where more u20 competitions for clubs at least in england to cut the travel cost.

    1. If you mean the recent u16 international tournament we got knocked out in the group stages as only the top team qualifies (in this case it was everton). We lost to everton 3-0 but beat cardiff, Ajax and marseille in a playoff. Chelsea eventually won the tournament beating madrid (who beat everton).

  3. Iliev; BOO, Hayden, O’Conor, Bellerin; Kamara, Olsson; Toral, Zelalem, Maitland-Niles; Iwobi.

    Bench – Macey/Huddart, Crowley, Moore, Pleguzeuelo, Hinds, Jebb, Mugabo

    Unless Hayden plays for the first-team, Toral could play out-wide did last year in the NextGen.

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