Hard-working Yennaris becomes latest Arsenal youngster to depart



Another week, another youngster gone, but, given that he is now at the stage of his career where he requires regular games to enhance his development, Nico Yennaris’ permanent departure today is not too surprising.

Yennaris, 20, has joined League One side Brentford for an undisclosed fee and, in doing so, has brought the curtain down on a career at Arsenal that spanned over ten years and yielded four senior appearances.

The most significant of those outings came in January 2012 when Yennaris performed admirably at right-back after replacing Johan Djourou as a half-time substitute against Manchester United in the Premier League. At that stage there was clamour amongst supporters for Yennaris to be promoted to the senior set-up on a regular basis, but, despite his ability to perform adroitly in both midfield or defence, that hope eventually didn’t transpire.

The England U19 international spent time on loan at Notts County and, more recently, Bournemouth, but failed to feature regularly during either spell and, having not represented the Arsenal first-team competitively since September 2012, the time seemed right for a permanent departure.

There will be several endearing memories of Yennaris’ time at the club, not least his dramatic winner against Inter Milan on a rain-soaked pitch in the NextGen Series last season, whilst he was also part of the U18 side that won the Academy League in his first season as a scholar.

Yennaris, who was once the mascot for Arsenal against Coventry City before featuring against the same side as a player many years later, joins the rapidly-growing list of Arsenal Academy alumni who are scattered throughout the English footballing pyramid. The youngster’s departure could soon be followed by that of Emmanuel Frimpong, who hasn’t been called upon to represent the first-team this season.

Benik Afobe and Chuks Aneke, who emerged from Hale End at the same time as Yennaris, also have serious question marks over their respective futures as the cold, hard reality begins to sink in regarding just how difficult it is to succeed as a first-team footballer at Arsenal.

Nico Yennaris Arsenal statistics:

First-team apps: 4

U21 apps: 42 (1 goal)

European apps: 9 (2 goals)

U18 apps: 38 (2 goals)



  1. It’s getting really tough to succeed at the Arsenal, especially as a midfielder with Wilshere, Ramsey, Walcott and Özil only being in their early to midtwenties and Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gnabry and Zelalem being groomed as the young prospects. Being a “good” player isn’t enough anymore, you need to exceptional.

    I really wish Nico Yennaris all the best for the future and further development.

    1. What always stood out about him to me was his mentality. He has all the technical qualities necessary to play the defensive roles he was given (in fact he is brilliant at winning the ball back from what I’ve seen) and was capable of making useful forward runs. He reminded me of flamini a lot in his playing style and leadership abilities and the lack of fear etc reminded me of Wilshere. We’ve had players like Traore who really did have exceptional talent, but not the mentality and thus didn’t make it, but Yennaris has exceptional mental qualities and, I thought, a very high level of ability, and I really thought he would have made it here. I just hope that the decision was not based on his relatively small stature because it didn’t seem to effect his game much..

  2. Really thought he had what it took. Showed energy, skill, surprising balance/physical strength for his size and real leadership. Hope he makes a good career for himself. From what I’ve seen he’s Premier League quality.

  3. I really rated him and am sorry to see him leave. One of those who could play anywhere and like JET and never found his rightful place in the team, in one position.

  4. You get the impression that he should have concentrated on the right back role if he was to have any chance at Arsenal. The fact that each of his loan spells saw very little game time did not help.
    Good move though, Brentford will hopefully be in the Championship next season.

    Good luck to the lad.

    1. With Coquelin it was not a matter of “victim of his versaitility” at all.

      First of all, Wenger was reluctant to play Coquelin last year, although physically he was clearly ready and it was obvious that the team needed that box to box runner with more physycal presence to complement Arteta or even alternate at DM with him But Wenger didnt play him much. With Wenger that usually indicates an attitude problem or poor practicing habits. Hard to see early on, but over the course of players career it sometimes becomes clearer later, eg Bendtner, Bentley, Pennant. etc

      Then when Wenger did play Coquelin, it seems he was not playing the role the way Wenger wanted it and Wenger clearly lost patience with him about halfway through last season. Ramsey came back, took his chances, leapt back up the growth curve and it was over.

      The way Wenger has kept saying over and over since last season that Ramsey’s development is no surprise because “is intelligent, takes coaching well and when you teach him something you can be sure you dont need to tell him again”, well I think he is sending a message to Coquelin for sure. That kid is ready in all respects except his head. Which is why he isnt pulling up trees in the Bundesliga at a team where he should be starring if he really is as good as he thinks he is.

  5. Interesting but I don’t understand ehy he didn’t get much further chances after impressing against ManU.
    By the way Jeorge, how come you know so much about the academy? Do you work at the training ground?

  6. Very sorry to see Nico leave, thought he was a very good player.
    Still can’t understand why his loan to Bournmouth went wrong?!
    Hope the lad has a fantastic career from here on. Wish him all the best…

  7. Because of Arsenals new spending power its going to be harder than ever for youngsters to break into the first, particularly the midfielders, and its true youre going to have to exceptional these days. I think afobe and ansah should be given extensions due to their injury problems and they have a lot to offer

  8. i have a feeling that nico will work his way back up to a high level in the game by his mid-twenties…he’s a natural, a very classy but also hardworking footballer…can’t wait to see him get some proper gametime now.

  9. Yennaris not just a great hard worker – he has premiership level capability IMO. Shame he could not have had more chances,

    That said the writing was on the wall for all the young DMs once Coquelin, the best among them, was loaned out and Flamini was brought back and the fairly young long term prospect Hayden quietly filtering into first team squad fringes.

    So this is not unexpected for Yennaris and I would think Frimpong will be on his way too unfortunately.

    It’s not the end of the top level dream for Nico. I think he will quickly be back in the Premiership, I suspect in midfield not full-back, but for me he was more than decent enough to play at this level as full back too.

  10. Thank you Nico, I’ve enjoyed your many contributions to this club over the years. Sorry to see you go, I know you’ll play a big part in the Brentford team in the seasons to come. See you in the prem before too long, proving the doubters wrong.

  11. As I predicted as far back as 2011, I believed that Yennaris to be honest was not premier league talent, I saw league 1 as his division) Football is now big business, and as far away from English grass roots a s possible! We should cap foreign players, and give British boys a better chance of making the top grade. I wish all young British pro players all the best when they move on from Arsenal and any big club.. Like Glen Hoddle and myself both realized 5 years ago, many of our National squad could be playing in the championship in years to come if there is not a significant change in policy.

    Mr. G

  12. Bizarre academy. Why buy jenkinson when you know yennaris is coming thru. His future was over 3 years ago. Why buy Ramsey when Lansbury is coming thru. Adofe Aneke and yennaris have played less games for the club in total than Conor. Henderson.
    sanogo Chung park etc are squad blockers killing homegrown talent

    1. They arent all on the same level. Lansbury is in the championship and not even the best player there, while Ramsey before injury was the best player in the premiership. No one is complaining about that one.

      But yes, I agree Yennaris should have had more chances. Not that Jenkinson shouldnt have been bought but then jettison Sagna and play the young guys in that position.

  13. Nicos departure is a poor reflection of an academy with a terrible track record of treating homegrown hale end players denied any real opportunity to either train play or join the first team.
    Any 16 yr old player hale end homegrown player needs to leave and go to a club for first team games.
    There has been no direct link between the academy and the first team since Brady was in position. With football now very big business local homegrown players are up against their own clubs international scout whose remit is to justify his job whatever the “talent” he recommends to the first team.
    Far better to use the hale end academy from 9 to 16 and leave for another clubs first team.
    Players and family members should remove sentiment from their decision as the club don’t show any to the player they get rid of or treat like waste from 16 to 20 at Shenly.
    (From a parent with direct knowledge of how Shenly operates.)

    1. I think the academy system in England simply doesn’t work to unearth the talent that DOES EXIST in Britain, initially set up to be non competitive, to concentrate on improving technique and tactical awareness, unfortunately parents as usual got over excited,(I know this to be so from managing at schoolboy district level, Yennaris and Spurs striker Harry Kane were in one of my sides together coincidentally) As a direct consequence the academy match results started to take precedence over the learning process, both on and off the pitch. Kane is in many ways suffering a similar fate (or going too in the next season or so) to that of Yennaris and many other young home grown talent, numerous loan outs, no regular run of games, then they disappear of the international off the radar, think John Bostock/Spurs, or Josh Mcechran/Chelsea, or most recently notable, Victor Moses (off to the world cup with Nigeria) (Kane for me is not Premier league quality like Yennnaris, but has a natural talent, his goal-scoring record at all levels speaks for itself. he is championship level, and could be prolific there like a David Nugent type) Even if British boys do make it at big clubs, they get limited playing time due to better foreign imports ahead of them. Rodwell at Man City is a prime example, will he make the world cup squad for Brazil? not unless there are massive injury problems in midfield. Also, how on earth is Jenkinson (personally i rate him) supposed to become an England regular when he is not even first choice left back at the Gunners, ridiculous! (yes Gibbs is English, I know, Cole and Baines ahead of him though) Recently In the F.A Cup 4th round Man City beat Watford from the Championship, Watford had only 4 academy ex trainees on the pitch, 3 of them in defence, 1 was the keeper. The rest of the team were foreign import, lots of Italians, well look who owns the club!!!

      Lets hope the new Football Committee does its job quickly, in the mean time, while we wait (again) we will be mourning a lost generation of British Footballers domestically and inevitably internationally !

  14. Mr G. Sadly your points on lack of playing time is valid. Chelsea have killed Mceachran as a prem player. His misfortune apart from the cash is being at Chelsea. If he’d been at Norwich or Everton he would have got first team games.
    My bugbear is prem clubs especially like Arsenal deny good homegrown players the opportunities to train and play with first team players. NY made Nani look ordinary at the Emirates but the following week he’s with the u21s squad. If Gnabry or Zelalem had performed at that level we all know a new contract and promotion to the first would follow. AW has a clear agenda for hale end players who are exclusively sold to
    for the academy. Why buy Sanogo when Afobe is there . He’s now on loan to SWed and will be sold in the summer. Akpom had a good pre season and made an impact in the league cup. He now on loan to Brentford when Zelalem is now in the first team. The policy is clear. AW has for year bee happy to give a average foreign players several chances but he will never give the same opportunities to hale end players.
    I disagree with jenkinson he’s technically poor apart from the odd cross and positionally clueless but has a good engine. He’s unlikely to learn this sitting on the bench
    The Watford situation is a joke and the football league need to have a good look at themselves.

  15. Yes peter, if Jenkinson is to improve at all the bench is not the best place! On that I do agree. Mr Wenger has agendas no doubts, once it was young French nobodies (long forgotten in the memory) apart from a few decent ones, Flamini,( should never have been sold in the first place) of course Thierry Henry (OOOOOOOOOOOOW QUALITY ! , as someone once said) Sagna i suppose? Of course the brand is now German, Draxler to follow? The Bundasliga is in great shape, could take a leaf out of their book. Then again we are always taking a leaf out of someones book historically, Ajax Academy, the Dutch Way, Clarefontaine the French Way, Tiki taka Barca Academy The Spanish Way. None of it seems to work as we see. For the risk of sounding like a a far right wing politician, I would not advocate PLAY THE ENGLISH WAY!!! er… my apologies to Andy Carroll and his fan.. Bill Shankly said it best it just a matter of pass and move!

    I digress,anyhow, Wenger knows the players he wants to keep, i am sure of that. As alluded to in an earlier posting by Davi regarding Yennaris,and stature, I wouldn’t be surprised if his size and proneness to injury/illness were taken into consideration. Peter, your Hale End Theory could have some credence. Oliver Nicholas a former player of mine (part of my school team that won the Waltham Forest Schools cup, 3 years on the bounce 2004 5 & 6 was an Arsenal Trainee (at Hale End) he trained with Jack Wilsheres group, but told me he did not train with the first team like Wilshere would do on occasion.. Sadly, Oliver is not in Football anymore, when he turned pro at 18 he did at Man city of all places, not Arsenal. He knew he would never be a first teamer , and I told him that too (because he was lower league material) City was an odd choice considering the foreign influx even then. Must have got a good signing on fee eh, i don’t know. Ended up at Blackburn, played in Reserves with Phil Jones of Man utd, then like for so many English boys the bubble burst!
    Afobe and Aneke were being has hailed by none other than Steve Bould as the 2 best prospects in the country, less than 2 years ago. I for one did not believe him and I still do not. I saw Sanogo (should be no go) at the Emirates cup last year, rather reminded me of the first time I saw Chamak, i knew there was no first Arsenal teamer there! I do like Gnabry though (I really hope you do too Pete lol) lots to learn, but lets it go early. I hope your son? got another chance.

    1. Watch this Space!!! Coming Soon……… Mr. G. on ‘ The Academy Situation For British Boys ‘ including Parental expectations among other related issues.

      1. I wonder why ? it is now that so called experts are picking up heavily on the situation of the failing academys ? I wonder ?????

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