Arsenal first-year scholars 2016/17- progress report

Whereas in previous years Arsenal tended to field line-ups containing many first-year scholars at U18 level, that wasn’t the case this campaign as coach Kwame Ampadu often elected to name extremely strong teams.

However, some of the club’s first-year scholars still made some significant steps forward in their development. Here’s a look at how they fared.



Undoubtedly the standout talent in this group of players, Nelson still played for the U18s at times but was most heavily involved with the U23s, for whom he scored six goals and provided six assists.

Capable of playing as an attacking midfielder or out wide, the 17-year-old is extremely skilful and will be aiming to make his first-team debut in 2017/18.


The Portugal youth international goalkeeper featured prominently for Arsenal at U18 level and made some impressive stops, while he also made one appearance in the UEFA Youth League and was on the bench for the U23s. Furthermore, he gained valuable experience training with the first-team.

Virginia should continue to play regularly for the U18s next campaign and will also be aiming to step up to the second-string.


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A highly-regarded winger, Smith-Rowe made his debut for the U23s in the heavy defeat to Everton and was a regular for the U18s, producing some encouraging performances for the latter age group.

The starlet represented England at the U17 Euros and looks set for a bright future at both club and international level.


The centre-back perhaps made the most progress out of all of Arsenal’s first-years this season.

Going into the season Olowu hadn’t previously featured for the U18s, but he quickly established himself as a regular at that level and went on to make four appearances for the U23s as the campaign went on.



Despite having made his debut for the U18s in the 2014/15 campaign, Omole had to be patient for opportunities and was often deployed at left-back rather than in his usual position of centre-back.

The highlight of the youngster’s season was undoubtedly his dramatic late winner as a substitute against Swansea City in February.


A winger who joined Arsenal as a schoolboy from Leyton Orient, Beckford was used sparingly this season as he was restricted to just three U18 appearances.

Beckford will hope to feature more prominently next campaign as he looks to earn a professional contract.



A talented central-midfielder, Benson played eleven times for the U18s, scoring once.

An impressive passer, he should be a regular for the U18s next season.


The Welsh youth international, another central-midfielder, was given 14 appearances at U18 level and also scored one goal.

A player with much potential, he will hope to push on next campaign and could be a useful option for Ampadu’s team in the number ten position.



A winger with much flair, Tormey played just once for the U18s in an injury-ravaged season.

The 17-year-old will be aiming to fully recover in time for pre-season training as he hopes for better luck next time around.


Capable of playing as a left-back or a left-winger, Thompson had a very frustrating season as he featured on just four occasions for the U18s, although he did provide an assist in the defeat to Fulham.

The youngster will have to really make an impact next season if he is to earn a professional contract.




Arsenal made a late decision to give Ballard a scholarship and the centre-back ended up playing 15 times for the U18s, scoring once.

Although he is a little rash in his decision making at times, Ballard is comfortable in possession and should receive plenty of game time next campaign.


The tall centre-back was signed in December after leaving Chelsea and was a key part of the U18 team in the second half of the season.

Medley, who is also capable of playing on the left wing if required, broke into the U23 squad in the closing stages of the campaign as he was named on the bench for the defeat to Sunderland.


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A goalkeeper who was previously on Celtic’s books, Crean signed for Arsenal on a professional contract in late September.

He proceeded to play seven times for Arsenal U18s but kept just two clean sheets.



  1. Thanks Jeorge, always good to read these progress reports.
    I don’t suppose you have the inside track on Chris Willock do you? What is keeping him from signing? Money, assurances on playing time or just keen to be at a different club?

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