Malen evokes further excitement with display for Arsenal U21s against West Ham

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He may not have scored, but almost everything that Donyell Malen did at Upton Park last night lent further credence to claims that Arsenal have an extremely exciting young talent on their books.

The 16-year-old, who appears to have, temporarily at least, fended off competition from Stephy Mavididi for a starting berth in Arsenal’s U21 side, showcased many of his key attributes in the 1-1 draw with West Ham United, as he demonstrated his pace, power and astute link-up play.

Ever since news filtered through that Malen was set to join from Ajax there has been an element of excitement about the forward, and so far that faith has certainly been well placed.

The Dutchman is superb at working space for himself, whilst when operating centrally he also often drifts into wide positions to excellent effect.

There have been some games this season when Malen has been rather anonymous, but last night’s match was not one of them as the striker was heavily involved in much of what was good about Arsenal’s attacking movements.

Perhaps it is an easy comparison to make, but there are elements of Malen’s game that call to mind Manchester United’s Anthony Martial, with both players capable of causing a multitude of problems for opposing defenders as a consequence of their unpredictability.

He isn’t even halfway through his first year as a scholar, yet Malen has already broken into Arsenal’s U21 squad, trained with the first-team on several occasions and also featured in the UEFA Youth League.

2016 promises to be another important year in his development with the youngster poised to sign his first professional contract, whilst, with many players set to be given a period of rest after Euro 2016, it isn’t out of the question that he could be involved with the first-team’s pre-season plans next summer.

Before then Malen will seek to gain as much playing time as possible for the U19s and the U21s, whilst he could also have a prominent part to play in the FA Youth Cup as Arsenal look to win that competition for the first time since 2009.

Malen may well be raw in some aspects of his game, but the talent is certainly there and the early signs are very encouraging indeed.





  1. Hey Jeorge, nice write-up, does breaking into the Under-21s at the age of 16 mean a lot at Arsenal or do a lot of players manage it?
    Appreciate what you’re saying about him taking the place of Mavididi but it’s not like Stephy set the Under-17 WC on fire?

    1. Breaking into the U21s at the age of 16 is very impressive. He’s making serious impact already at this level which means he’s a special talent(as many Dutch fans said in the summer).

      It’s true that Mavididi is not a good talent. He will fade away in the coming years.

      1. I remember playing against an absolute garbage player as a kid, he was tall and gangly looking more like a high jumper than a footballer. He went on to carve out a pretty decent top flight career, representing England and scoring at world cups. He is still playing in the EPL now, his name Peter crouch. Please don’t tell me you know that mavididi will fade away. Even top managers moved crouch on many times and still he proved them wrong. OK the goals seem to be drying up now for crouch and the competition is greater just like they are for mavididi but, mavididi has years to turn his fortunes around, don’t write the kid off yet.

  2. In the summer, Ajax fans who follow youth football were absolutely pissed when they heard that Malen was going to Arsenal. They said that he was their biggest talent from the 1999 age group (and also Netherlands’ biggest talent in that age group).

  3. The way he combines technique with pace and finishing is amazing. There are many good youth strikers with pace, but the way Malen handles the ball is something different. I’d be surprised if he wouldn’t get first team chances before the age of 19. He’s somewhat similar to the Brazilian Ronaldo, but he’s also such a good distributor of the ball, you could even play him at 10.

  4. I think it’s a poor comparison with Anthony Martial. The kid has something special although he has a very long road ahead of him before he’s a professional footballer.

    1. He already is a professional footballer.. Malen’s salary is pretty insane. Supposedly he makes £1.8 million a year. Arsenal don’t pay him that for no reason.

      Any comparison to a more accomplished player is problematic I guess, but it can be interesting anyway. Martial’s dribble style reminds me more of Henry, whereas Malen’s reminds me of Brazilian Ronaldo a bit. Malen is also great with his back to the goal, a bit like Kluivert. Off course these players are legends, and whether Malen will live up to anything even remotely close is still a question.

      1. So u think Arsenal would pay a 16 year old over 10k a week. Oh please.😄😄😄😄😄😄
        This is Arsenal not man-city or Chelsea.

      2. @kol: Yep, they do, and supposedly Chelsea thought Raiola’s salary demands for Malen were too high… Malen is that good though. Anyone paying attention can see the amazing talent.

      3. Malen is still 16 years old. Can’t sign a professional deal until he’s 17 so there’s no way he’s on that kind of money right now and even when he does turn pro Arsenal will never offer that much to such a young player. I’m not sure where you got these numbers from. Are you sure that wasn’t the fee that we paid for him?

      4. I agree with u 100 percent the boy is a very good player, but Arsenal have always had a very very strict wage structure that’s why some of our best players have left us in recent years. But seeing is believing if u have proof.

      5. And if yr right, then we should offer Reece Oxford of west ham 10k to come Arsenal too and believe me for 10k the boy will sign in a sec.

    1. I agree.
      I had high hope for Benik Afobe and Chuck Aneke, but they did not make the grade. I do not rate Mavididi as high as either of them. I am not even sure that Mavididi would become a Championship striker. Being tall, burly and half decent technique is not enough any more. The level has increased so much, that nowadays even at championship level, you need to be a 8 out 10 in at least 3 of the following qualities: pace, strength, will to score at all cost, vision, technique, stamina. Right now, Mavididi is barely a 6.
      It is insane, but the Championship is full of strikers who are internationals or who could do a job in the premiership. Akpom is discovering that the hard way. He did not want to go loan, because he thought that he was ready for Arsenal first team. Now he is not pulling any tree at Hull.

      Regarding Malen, he was the first young player AFC believed in so much, they gazumped Chelsea. Him, Jeff, Yacine Fortune, Bennacer, Maitland-Niles are the only youth players who look like they have a chance to make it at Arsenal.

    2. Pretty short sighted imo. Nketiah and hinds both seem great and just because physicality is an asset which may seem less pleasing on the eye than ‘tekkers’ it still remains an important asset of top tier football not to mention I doubt any of us have seen enough to conclude he lacks in that department either.

      Malen has obviously had a great start and I have a good feeling about him but it’s still just a ‘start’. Among the current batch of strikers I quite like the look of nketiah and Malen but that’s but that’s really based on limited information. Reiss nelson is a winger btw.

  5. Well I would add Reiss Nelson? to the list of those who have a big chance of making it and that’s based on information I gather from this fine blog not from personally watching.

    1. Reiss Nelson, Chris Willock, Julio Pleguezuelo, Krystian Bielik, wouldn’t rule out Gedion Zelalem and Emiliano Martinez.
      Yassin Fortune has not done a lot so far to put him ahead of others you missed. Joe Willock, Dragomir and Nketiah have performed better than him by all accounts.

      1. I should have qualified my comment as as far as forward in the next three years.
        However if that qualification, I don’t see many others making the grade.
        Emilio Martinez will be a decent keeper, but is he going to be better than Cech or even Tech9 in the next years? I don’t think so. So he will be released after flirting with the first team for a couple of years as an unused substitute.
        Zelalem will always flatter to deceive. Great vision, great passer, but He does not have the physicality, not the will to fight. Whenever the going will get tough, he will be found wanting. Unless he has an epiphany and wakes up the warrior in him, I can see him drifting away from the first team. A career a la Fran Merida. Full of promises and flash of brilliance but wasted by a weak/unfocused mind.
        Kristian Bielik has the making of a great DM, I understand that using him as centre half teach him a different vision of the game, but I personally think that it is a waste. He can be a decent centre half, but he would be a great DM.
        Julio Pleguezuelo will need to spend at least two years on loan before near the first team. One year at a Championship club, then one year at a Premiership club. Injuries (to him and to others) will determine if he makes it at Arsenal. Sometimes luck is the greatest factor in a career.
        For the rest, I have seen flashes, but nothing extraordinary nor consistently good to make think that they will make it at Arsenal. It does not mean that they will not make it as professional players, but IMHO just not at Arsenal.
        Before getting upset by my judgment, remember that to make it at Arsenal you just don’t need to be good, you need to be exceptional. As an attacking midfield player, you now need to have the potential to be as good as Wilshere, Ramsey, Cazorla and that German who according to the DailyHeil hack “is nicking a living” Mezut Özil. Right now none of them have consistently played in such way to led me to believe that is remotely likely.

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