Arsenal Youth progress report part 5 – From Ballard to Dinzeyi

The final part of this season’s progress report is split into two sections, with the first part assessing players who were born between September 1999 and August 2000.

ZECH MEDLEY

League One apps: 12

Carabao Cup apps: 2

EFL Trophy apps: 4

Scottish Premiership apps: 8 (1 goal)

Scottish Cup apps: 2

The tall centre-back hadn’t experienced a loan spell prior to this season but he had two this campaign as he spent time with Gillingham and Kilmarnock. Medley was initially a regular in League One but his spell at Gillingham was cut short, while he also lost his place in the Kilmarnock side towards the end of a campaign in which they were relegated from the Scottish Premiership. He did score his first senior goal but another loan spell is likely next season, with it being difficult to see opportunities arising at Arsenal.

JOSEPH OLOWU

National League apps: 12

U23 apps: 3 (1 assist)

Olowu had a varied season as he represented three different teams. The defender started out at Cork City in a continuation of his previous loan spell, then had a few games back in the Arsenal U23 side before finishing the season in the National League with Wealdstone. Olowu is a proven performer at U23 level and helped the young Gunners to enjoy a mini resurgence but it wouldn’t be surprising if he was to leave permanently this summer.

DANIEL BALLARD

League One apps: 27 (2 goals)

FA Cup apps: 2

U23 apps: 2

In stark contrast to the previous season, when his loan spell with Swindon Town was cut short due to injury, Ballard has thrived this campaign. Now an established part of the Northern Ireland senior squad, he has made fantastic progress at club level too, featuring heavily for Blackpool during their promotion push and producing consistent displays. Regardless of whether Blackpool are promoted or not, it seems likely he will be playing on loan in the Championship next season.

GEORGE LEWIS

U23 apps: 10 (1 assist)

EFL Trophy apps: 1 (1 goal)

The most surprising of surprise signings, Lewis previously played in the third tier of Norwegian football but ended up joining Arsenal. His move hasn’t gone to plan so far, though, despite a bright start that encompassed him finding the net against Ipswich Town in the EFL Trophy. Lewis has pace in abundance but has lacked consistency and has struggled to establish himself as a regular starter for the U23s, although an injury earlier in the season didn’t help his cause. He could still be part of the U23 squad next season but first-team chances seem unlikely.

JONATHAN DINZEYI

U23 apps: 17

EFL Trophy apps: 1

Another shock signing, Dinzeyi joined Arsenal having been released by rivals Tottenham Hotspur. The centre-back featured prominently and has plenty of experience of U23s football but never really stood out. By the end of the season younger centre-backs such as Alex Kirk and Zane Monlouis were outperforming him, which suggests Dinzeyi’s chances of succeeding at Arsenal are rather slim. Next season he could go out on loan before leaving permanently.


Emile Smith Rowe has already emerged from this group, and Reiss Nelson is also in the first-team squad. Daniel Ballard looks to most set up to have a successful career, although it is very difficult for a centre-back to make it at Arsenal. Medley has talent but time is running out for him, while the rest of the players probably won’t remain at the club beyond next season.


The final section of the progress report looks at the slightly older youngsters – those who are older than 21.

DEYAN ILIEV

League One apps: 3

A goalkeeper who has been unfortunate with injuries throughout his career, Iliev is still part of the Arsenal U23 squad at the age of 26. Last season he had a loan spell at Shrewsbury Town where injury affected him again. The shot-stopper, who previously had spells with Sered and Jagiellonia Bialystok, has a year remaining on his contract at Arsenal. If a buyer can’t be found this summer he is likely to be loaned out for his final season at the club.

BEN SHEAF

Championship apps: 30 (1 assist)

FA Cup apps: 1

Carabao Cup apps: 1

Sheaf, who has been at Arsenal since 2014, has steadily worked his way up the divisions in terms of loan spells and featured for Coventry City in the Championship this season. The midfielder started off well before losing his place in the team in the second half of the campaign. Sheaf has the quality to be a success at League One level at least and is set to be sold this summer if a suitable offer is made.

TOLAJI BOLA

League One apps: 11

FA Cup apps: 1

U23 apps: 9 (1 assist)

EFL Trophy apps: 1 (1 assist)

Hard-working left-back Bola got his long-awaited first loan spell as he headed to Rochdale but he was unable to make a significant impact and returned to Arsenal in January. The Hale End product lost his place in the U23s starting lineup to Joel Lopez and wasn’t considered when the first-team had a crisis at left-back, which suggests that his future lies elsewhere.

JORDI OSEI-TUTU

Championship apps: 8

Carabao Cup apps: 1

Misfortune with injuries meant that Osei-Tutu was unable to build upon his successful stint with VfL Bochum. The right-back started off well at Cardiff but spent the vast majority of the season on the sidelines and made a brief return prior to getting injured again. The 22-year-old requires ankle surgery which may mean Arsenal are unable to sell him this summer but his chances of making the breakthrough, which looked encouraging at one stage, are fading fast.


Iliev, Sheaf and Bola all appear to be on their way out of the club, whether that is this summer or next year, and Osei-Tutu seems unlikely to make it now.

Advertisement

2 comments

  1. Good work Jeorge..
    So close and still so far.
    I would love to see an academy rating system based how many graduates find jobs in football and at which level.
    Based maybe over 3-5 yrs after leaving academy football.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s