Arsenal’s nine second-year scholars – who will get a professional contract?

(Back row (left to right), Miguel Azeez, Alex Kirk, Daniel Oyegoke, Per Mertesacker (Academy Manager), Kido Taylor-Hart, Levi Laing, Jason Sraha. Front row (left to right), Luke Plange, Catalin Cirjan, Mazeed Ogungbo, Ovie Ejeheri, Hubert Graczyk). Image via Arsenal.

Several members of Arsenal’s scholarship intake in 2019 have already progressed to professional terms, namely Miguel Azeez, Catalin Cirjan and Alex Kirk.

Nine youngsters, however, have yet to put pen to paper on professional deals, with just over four months left until their scholarship contracts expire.

Here’s a look at which of the prospects are likely to be retained and who could be let go.

It was previously reported that Nathan Butler-Oyedeji will turn professional in the summer. The hard-working youngster is a winger but has recently been used as a centre-forward, where he has demonstrated his excellent hold-up play.

Kido Taylor-Hart is a regular in the matchday squad for the U23s and has already scored at that level, while the winger has continued to feature prominently for the U18s, scoring six goals and providing four assists in nine league appearances.

Given the quality that Taylor-Hart possesses, it seems very likely that Arsenal will offer him a professional contract, but whether he will sign it is a different matter entirely given the strong interest in him, particularly from foreign clubs.

Daniel Oyegoke has recently returned from injury but when fit has been involved with the U23 squad, while he has often impressed when he has featured for the U18s.

The right-back, who can also fill in at centre-back, was involved for the first-team in friendlies last summer and looks a certainty to be offered a professional deal.

Arsenal have a difficult decision to make with regards to goalkeepers Ovie Ejeheri and Hubert Graczyk. Given the large amount of goalkeepers already in the U23 squad, there doesn’t appear much need to offer both Ejeheri and Graczyk a professional contract.

At present Ejeheri appears to be in pole position to be retained, although he suffered an injury recently that could affect his progress.

Graczyk, meanwhile, has impressive reflexes but is somewhat error prone.

Mazeed Ogungbo can play at centre-back or left-back and is being used increasingly regularly in the latter position, mainly because there aren’t many other options there for the U18s.

A player who is strong physically and good technically, Ogungbo is rated highly by Arsenal and is therefore likely to stay.

Luke Plange is a hard-working forward but he has struggled to establish himself as a regular starter for the U18s this season.

Khayon Edwards, who is still a first-year scholar, is seen as a player with more potential than Plange, and the latter could end up being released.

Levi Laing featured for the U23s earlier in the season, but the versatile youngster, who can play in most positions in defence and midfield, has struggled to stay fit for extended periods.

Laing has much work to do in the remainder of the campaign if he is to be kept on by Arsenal.

A defender who was previously at Chelsea, Jason Sraha hasn’t played this season and featured just six times for the U18s last campaign.

Sraha is composed in possession but his long-term injury, from which he has now recovered, affected his development. With a lot of young centre-backs at the club time is running out for Sraha to convince Arsenal to give him a professional contract.

Overall, it seems likely that Butler-Oyedeji, Taylor-Hart, Oyegoke and Ogungbo will all be offered deals, although uncertainty persists regarding whether Taylor-Hart will stay.

One of Ejeheri and Graczyk will probably be retained, while Plange, Laing and Sraha appear to be at most risk of being released.

4 comments

  1. I have no idea where I heard this, so cannot say it is true, but I heard the okonkwo, ogungbo and oyegoke have the same agent as balogun who is encouraging them all to move on.

  2. Transfermarkt has Okonkwo’s agency as “ARETÉ”, no info for Oyegoke & Ogungbo being represented by “Progress Manage”.

    Balogun (as well as Saka, Eddie, and Reiss) are all represented by “Elite Project Group Limited”. Obviously, these things change, but it doesn’t appear to be true.

  3. Great piece J.B! Kido Taylor-Hart needs to be put on a long term deal, hopefully he signs. He can progress into the first team at a point next season!

    I really like Luke Plange very tidy player. Oyegoke is talented but I see Norton-Cuffy ahead of him at the moment.

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