Catalin Cirjan’s agent has claimed that the midfielder has been promoted to the senior squad and will now ‘train only with the first-team’.
The midfielder, who recently turned 18, was promoted to Arsenal’s U23 squad ahead of this season despite still being eligible to play for the U18s.
Since then Cirjan has made six appearances for the U23s, scoring once, while he has also featured for the U21s in the EFL Trophy and was on the bench for a first-team pre-season friendly against Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium.
Cirjan was one of a host of youngsters to train with the senior squad on Monday and afterwards his agent Catalin Sarmasan wrote on Instagram: ‘Catalin Cirjan was definitively co-opted in the group of Arsenal’s first team. From today, he will train daily only for seniors, confidently waiting for his debut in the Premier League.’
Sarmasan added on Twitter: ‘Happy to confirm @CirjanCatalin1 is now officially part of Arsenal’s first team squad. He’s got a fantastic progress ahead of him. He’ll work hard and achieve his dreams! Good luck, Cata! I’m proud of you!’.
Cirjan is undoubtedly one of Arsenal’s standout prospects but it does appear a little unusual for a player to be promoted without having been called up for a competitive game. That said, Cirjan most probably would have been selected at some stage in the Europa League if he was eligible to feature in that competition.
In addition, Cirjan is still sporting an ‘A’ for Academy on his training top instead of his squad number 68, which indicates that, as of Monday’s session, he hadn’t yet been officially promoted. It will be interesting to see whether this changes for future sessions.
In most cases Arsenal don’t promote youngsters to the first-team squad unless they have at least some first-team appearances for the club to their name. Bukayo Saka, for instance, played over 30 times before he was promoted to the senior squad.
With nine substitutes now allowed on the bench in Premier League games, Cirjan could have an opportunity to be called up at some stage, especially if other players are injured or ill.
It appears that Cirjan will no longer train with the U23s, but he could still feature prominently for Steve Bould’s side. Arsenal elected not to field the youngster in the FA Youth Cup tie against Rotherham United last week as they feel that he is beyond U18 football.
Cirjan mainly featured as an attacking midfielder during his first season at Arsenal but has often been used on the right wing this campaign. An excellent dribbler and passer, he has an impressive tactical understanding of the game.