Promising goalkeeper Ryan Huddart has today signed his maiden professional contract with Arsenal, becoming the first member of this season’s group of scholars to commit his future to the club.
Signed from Charlton Athletic as a schoolboy, Huddart has developed well this season, with the shot-stopper making 15 appearances for the U18s to add to the two run-outs he received at that level last campaign. In addition, the England U17 international has made the bench in the U21 Premier League, the U21 Premier League Cup, the UEFA Youth League and the FA Youth Cup. He made his debut for the U21s as a substitute during the defeat to Colchester United in pre-season.
Huddart only turned 17 yesterday, with the promptness of his new deal highlighting just how highly regarded he is by the club, despite the fact that he has several other young goalkeepers ahead of him in Damian Martinez, Matt Macey, Deyan Iliev and Josh Vickers.
Given that there appeared to be no complications in Huddart signing his contract, it is a little surprising that Gedion Zelalem and Julio Pleguezuelo, who have been eligible to sign a professional deal since January, have not yet put pen to paper. Zelalem is already part of the first-team squad at just 17, whilst Pleguezuelo has established himself as a key component of the U21 side since joining from Barcelona in the summer.
It is expected that right-back Tafari Moore and the hugely promising midfielder Dan Crowley will be offered professional contracts when they turn 17 later this year, whilst winger Ainsley Maitland-Niles and centre-back Stefan O’Connor have both been hugely impressive this campaign. Renny Smith and Elliot Wright are the other current first-year scholars, with both players having featured regularly for the U18s.
The club are also no closer to making a decision on the respective futures of the remaining second-year scholars, although it is expected that Alex Iwobi, Glen Kamara, Josh Vickers and Tarum Dawkins will all be offered extended stays, with Alfred Mugabo and Arinse Uade facing a fight to prolong their Arsenal careers.