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:
*Kristopher Da Graca
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.