Following the departures of eight youngsters in the past few days, we now have a much clearer indication of what Arsenal’s development squads may look like for next season.
Benik Afobe, Chuba Akpom, Hector Bellerin, Thomas Eisfeld, Deyan Iliev, Jack Jebb, Austin Lipman, Damian Martinez, Matt Macey, Semi Ajayi, Kristoffer Olsson, Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, Jon Toral, Gedion Zelalem, Ryan Huddart, Alex Iwobi, Julio Pleguezuelo, Ignasi Miquel, Samuel Galindo, Wellington, Glen Kamara, Josh Vickers, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Tafari Moore, Stefan O’Connor, Elliot Wright, Renny Smith, Dan Crowley, Isaac Hayden.
Of those, Afobe and Miquel appear to be at the point in their careers where they should either be competing for a place in the first-team squad or allowed to continue their development elsewhere. Pre-season should be key in both cases, whilst Akpom, Eisfeld, Olsson and Toral may well go out on loan at some point in the campaign. Bellerin and Martinez, meanwhile, will be hopeful of promotion to the senior squad. Galindo will run down the final year of his contract at the club, with a decision yet to be made on the future of Wellington.
As the campaign progresses, many of the second-year scholars, most of whom already have considerable experience of playing at this level, will become increasingly important members of the U21 squad. It remains possible that Andries Jonker, the club’s incoming Head of Youth Development, will seek to bring in some players from his native Netherlands.
BELLERIN- AJAYI- MIQUEL- ORMONDE OTTEWILL
Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Tafari Moore, Stefan O’Connor, Elliot Wright, Renny Smith, Dan Crowley, Ryan Huddart, Julio Pleguezuelo, Gedion Zelalem, Chris Willock, Kaylen Hinds, George Dobson, Aaron Eyoma, Aaron Jordan, Chiori Johnson, Harry Donovan, Jonatas Centeno, Joshua Da Silva, Kristopher Da Graca, Marc Bola, Marcus Tabi, Mich’el Parker, Owen Moore, Stephy Mavididi, Tolaji Bola, Tyrell Robinson.
As with most seasons, the U18 squad, coached by Frans de Kat and Kwame Ampadu, will consist mostly of first-year scholars, most of whom featured prominently at this level last season. There will be several further schoolboys waiting in the wings, hoping to make their debuts at some point, including the promising Charlie Gilmour. A back-up goalkeeper to Huddart remains a priority signing.
Johnson-Da Graca-M. Bola-T. Bola