Arsenal select new scholars, but several other decisions loom large


Kristopher Da Graca

Kristopher Da Graca

After much deliberation the Arsenal Academy coaching staff have finally made their decisions regarding next season’s scholarship intake.

The majority of the club’s schoolboys have been retained, with Jayden Thorbourne, Ernest Okoh and goalkeepers Corey Addai and Harry Girling the only players let go so far.

As things stand the club will take on 13 scholars next season, namely:

*James Blanchfield

*Marc Bola

*Kristopher Da Graca

*George Dobson

*Ovie Ejaria

*Aaron Eyoma

*Aaron Jordan

*Chiori Johnson

*Kaylen Hinds

*Stephy Mavididi

*Olufela Olomola

*Tyrell Robinson

*Chris Willock

Marc Bola

Marc Bola

Some of the above players, including Hinds, Willock and Robinson, have already been given the guarantee of a professional contract once they turn 17, whilst Swedish centre-back Da Graca will complete his move to the club from Hisingsbacka in the summer.

This list is not set in stone, as, despite the fact that they have been offered contracts at the club, the youngsters can still opt to move elsewhere before July 1st, as Jordan Brown did last year when he joined West Ham United, whilst, following the departures of both Addai and Girling, the club may seek to sign a new Academy goalkeeper.

Willock would appear to be the stand-out prospect in this group, considering that he has already been invited to train with the first-team squad on two occasions, and, although he is somewhat slight physically, the England U16 international is superb technically.

Kaylen Hinds, meanwhile, has certainly caught the eye since arriving from Leyton Orient at the start of last season. The striker will face considerable competition up front from Stephy Mavididi and Olufela Olomola, although the latter is currently recovering from injury. Midfielder George Dobson is hugely promising and possesses a good passing range.

Marc Bola is a reliable defender who can play at centre-back or left-back, whilst Robinson has impressed in numerous positions whilst playing for the U18s this season, but seems most at home on the right-wing, where he can use his crossing ability to devastating effect.

Right-back Chiori Johnson has been a regular in the U18 squad this campaign, and, although he will be looking for some more consistency in his performances, he should establish himself further at that level next season.

Ejaria, a central-midfielder, and Eyoma, a winger, will add further depth to Carl Laraman’s U18 side next season, whilst Blanchfield and Jordan are two intriguing talents who have been offered contracts despite the fact that they are yet to play competitively for the U18s.

Blanchfield is capable of playing some superb passes from his position in central-midfield, whilst Jordan can operate on either wing or up front.

Later this month Gedion Zelalem will become the first member of this season’s intake of scholars to sign a professional contract, with the midfielder set to put pen to paper on a long-term deal. Tafari Moore, Julio Pleguezuelo and Dan Crowley are scheduled to follow suit when they turn 17, whilst Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Stefan O’Connor have made impressive strides this season.

As far as the current second years are concerned, the club are still to decide which of the six remaining players will be offered professional deals. Glen Kamara and Alex Iwobi seem likely to receive one, whilst Tarum Dawkins and goalkeeper Josh Vickers, who is currently on loan at Canvey Island, will also be hopeful of earning extended stays. The outlook looks rather bleaker, however, for Alfred Mugabo and Arinse Uade, who have struggled to impress this season.

Several existing young professionals are also out of contract in the summer, with Nico Yennaris, Benik Afobe, Chuks Aneke, Ignasi Miquel and Zak Ansah amongst those who are currently striving for their futures at the club. Centre-back Daniel Boateng, meanwhile, seems a certainty to be released.

14 comments

  1. Brilliant site Jeorge.

    I think the existing young professionals are going to struggle. Except for strikers there is fierce competition for places in the first team – I would say next year if Campbell comes in you will have AOC and Gnabry as third choice on flanks and Rosicky, Diaby, Frimpong will be third choice midfield. The defence is also very solid with 4 good full backs 3 central defenders. Also, there are top youth players coming up in the positions of the listed players who will be even better by start of 2015/16: Afobe see Akpom, Aneke see Toral, Ansah see Eisfeld, Yennaris see Bellerin, Miquel see Hayden. Its abit of a shame as four of the older youth players are English. Now its down to Akpom or Hayden to be the next English Academy player to come through.

  2. good to see aaron jordan on the list, i remember one time jamie sanderson saying he is the most promising youngster we have at the moment. REALLY THOUGHT BENIK WILL MAKE THE FIRST TEAM

  3. I suppose it’s all pretty good news then, though as they can still leave before the date you mention the possibility’s still there of some/any of them leaving. I guess this is a period when the club has to make sure they keep the most coveted players happy/convinced they stand a good chance here.

    Couple of Qs

    Notice Harry Donovan isn’t on list and had read he was highly rated, is he younger than that lot or is something up?

    Is Aaron Jordan the kid some were saying was amazing a while back?

    Finally, what a shame it would be if it doesn’t work out for Mugabo. The signs looked great for him last year- international cap, singled out for praise by Wilshere- guess it shows it aint over till you’re in that first team in terms of player development. Always hopeful of some youngsters coming through with attributes we’re not renowned for any more, i.e strength and tenacity (all of Hayden, Akpom, Ajayi,Moore and Kamara fit the criteria to varying degrees), and he seemed to fit the bill. Perhaps if his lack of progression was chiefly caused by injuries they’ll give him extra time.

  4. i really hope wenger keeps yennaris for the first team squad…the kid has great quality and attitude and presence on the pitch…sagna, monreal, flamini and arteta are all around the 30-mark…there isn’t a wealth of young competition in defensive midfield and in the full-back positions. is frimpong better than yennaris? is coquelin? i don’t think so. i really think keeping yennaris at the club is a sensible move for all concerned.

    also aneke could feel a bit hard done by if he’s not kept on. he’s doing great on loan, and scoring crackers for fun. a future yaya toure, you never know. big midfielders are not in fashion at the minute at arsenal, but surely it’s sensible to keep some diversity in your intake into the first team squad. maybe he can take diaby’s place in the squad. can wenger responsibly justify giving diaby a new contract?

    general point: people on this site always say there aren’t enough places in the squad to justify keeping these kids on, but i suspect a few departures will open up some spots. i expect fabianski, viviano, diaby, park, bendtner to go in the summer…possibly sagna…possibly vermaelen too…definitely space for a couple of our young pros.

  5. I am hoping that Wenger gives all the players born 93 another year to prove their worth. However for those born 92 who have to come into the 25 man thinking it really is time up. If I am not mistaken that is Wilshire jenkinson frimpong Martinez Miguel boateng ryo galindo campbell. Obviously it is curtains for boateng and one would assume boateng too. Obviously Wilshire and jenkinson are safe but in frimpong Martinez miquel ryo and Campbell you have 5 players looking to stay in the squad, make the squad, or move on. As I see it those 5 are also competing with coquelin and djourou who could both return as well as looking over their shoulder at those 8 born 93 Chamberlain afobe yennaris eisfeld Wellington aneke ajayi and sanogo. You would have to say that Chamberlain is the only certainty of the 93 so far but many are in direct competition, for example djourou miquel and ajayi then frimpong coquelin and yennaris, I would say only 1 of each trio is likely to stay. Ryo Campbell Wellington could well be fighting for 1 place too whilst a choice between afobe and sanogo seems on the cards. Similarly I think it will be aneke or eisfeld

    1. He plays now for Slavia Prague reserve team. I don’t think that he has yet made an appearance for their first team.
      Great technique, but bad attitude and definitely not a team player, he needs to grow up. Unless somebody or something get through to him, he will have a career a la Rohan Rickett. More famous for being a former Arsenal child prodigy than for his senior career minus the social media and pseudo journalistic career.
      You need also a strong will to learn from your mistake to be successful. Unfortunately, his stubbornness is killing his career and narrowing his future options. Maybe he needs to reach bottom, before he can rise again, but I am afraid that even so it may be too late for him.

    2. Cheers for the replies. It’s a shame how he is seemingly wasting away his talent. Still has time on his side to turn it around.

  6. Alban is currently with Slavia Prague B team after being released from Seville B team.

    Looks like Arsenal might have got this correct then.

  7. Just for anyone who doesn’t know: Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Stefan O’Connor (plus Crowley and Moore) have been called up to the England u17 squad for training and games at St George’s Park.

  8. Anyone else’s high hopes for Crowley’s development clouded by fears that some tool will injure him?

    Following the u21 game on twitter now and, though I have to stress I’ve no idea what’s happened, he’s had to leave the field on a stretcher.

    I hope for his sake it’s nothing serious and ,for mine, that it’s not because of a bad challenge. The injuries in recent years have changed my football-watching for the worse, and it would take it to a new level is someone’s gone in stupidly in his first u21 game. Let it not be a serious one.

  9. Now we know this year’s potential scholar intake when will we be introduced to the under 15 boys because I only know a few of the like Charlie,Marcus,Josh,Joe and the two they took from Chelsea. Also who will make the decision with brady set to leave in the summer.

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