Da Graca seeking to push on after difficult start to his Arsenal career

There has been considerable criticism of Arsenal’s scouting network at youth level in recent years, with several players from abroad failing to impress.

Admittedly there have been some major success stories, with Hector Bellerin and Serge Gnabry breaking into the first-team squad, whilst Julio Pleguezuelo seems set for a future at a very high level.

There are, though, numerous examples of players recruited from elsewhere who have struggled greatly before fading into insignificance. One player who will be hoping to avoid such a fate is defender Kristopher Da Graca, who endured a difficult first campaign at the club following his arrival from Hisingsbacka.

The Swedish youth international, who is also eligible to represent Bosnia & Herzegovina, is a player who had been on Arsenal’s radar for some time; indeed his transfer to Arsenal was agreed in August 2013, just under a year before he officially linked up with the club.

Da Graca had to be patient to make his debut, with registration problems and injuries taking their toll, but when opportunities finally did arrive for the youngster he failed to seize them, with the centre-back frequently being caught out of position and making costly errors whilst representing Arsenal’s U18 team.

Da Graca made a total of 12 appearances for Frans De Kat’s side last season, but, despite his difficult campaign, he has featured prominently for Arsenal’s U21 side during pre-season and will be hopeful of stepping up to represent the second-string when the competitive action gets back underway.

A tall player who is capable of bringing the ball out from defence, one of the most prominent concerns regarding Da Graca is his apparent lack of awareness and decisiveness. It is hoped that, with a year’s experience of English youth football now under his belt, he will be better equipped to tackle the challenges that lie in wait.

At just 17, it is perhaps a little harsh to judge Da Graca in such a light, and it is certainly possible that he could develop considerably this season. So far, though, the signs don’t seem to be positive at all, with the youngster’s performances calling to mind those of Elton Monteiro, who is now representing Lausanne in the Swiss second tier.

Da Graca, who signed his first professional contract last season, will hope to instead push on and will be aiming to put his challenging start to his Arsenal career behind him.



  1. Personally think it’s time to stop pushing these kids into higher age groups, unless they are really head n shoulders above what’s around them. Why can’t a 17 year old play u18 football and 20 year old play u21 football. I remember the day when a player broke into the first team at around 23 there is nothing shameful about that.

    I mean really, iwobi and willock are being pushed into the first team picture when campbell and Wellington are not getting a look in, is that really right?

    I want to see us fill our 25 man quota, let our u21s play u21 football or go on loan, if they are really too good for u21, but from what I have seen they are not so amazing and the club and their agents need to keep their feet on the ground.

    1. Its about development.Wellington is not with the first team simply because he is not good enough and he will be on the bench a lot. We have enough players even on the bench. It makes sense to have Willock staying than Wellington because wellington is too good to sit while he can actually play in the highest division in any country. Same goes for Campbell who cant be with the U21 and on the bench with the first team when he can play regularly anywhere.

      If you can play for a higher age group, you should always do that.

  2. hi george,u have given the squad number of both marc bola and chris willock the same as 59,which is the correct one,thnx in advance

    1. As things stand Willock will be number 59 for this season and Bola will be assigned a new number.

      On Wed, Jul 22, 2015 at 12:51 PM, Jeorge Bird's Arsenal Youth wrote:


  3. Hi George – really enjoying your pre-season coverage of our youth players.

    Would you happen to know why fans are being charged £10 to watch this Friday’s game at Borehamwood? Seems somewhat excessive, especially as so many games used to be free admission at Barnet’s old ground.

    1. Boreham Wood always charge a similar price for this friendly- I think they see it as a good opportunity to make money as people will want to watch Arsenal play.

      It is excessive, especially given that they’re a non-league team, but then again the majority of the Arsenal youth games played there throughout the season are free.

      On Wed, Jul 22, 2015 at 3:32 PM, Jeorge Bird's Arsenal Youth wrote:


      1. Thanks for that Jeorge (and profuse apologies for misspelling your name earlier – mixing you up with that maniac from Blackburn I expect). Good to hear prices drop once the season gets going. To be honest I’d have no problem paying £2-£4 but £10 a head becomes pricey for most family groups very quickly.

  4. I think some Youth players are being pushed to play beyond their age groups because the coaches may believe they show potential and can improve faster by playing with more experienced players.

    If they are not good enough, then they will be found out and not join the First Team squad. Remember Ignasi Miguel?

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