Daniel Oyegoke’s surprise departure set to benefit Brooke Norton-Cuffy

It was anticipated that there would be a significant amount of departures from the Arsenal academy this summer, but the identity of some of the individuals who have left so far has taken many by surprise.

That is certainly the case as far as Daniel Oyegoke is concerned, with the defender having announced today that he is leaving the Gunners having rejected the offer of a professional contract.

Losing Oyegoke is certainly a blow, with the 18-year-old possessing much in the way of potential. The defender was involved with the first-team in pre-season last year and is incredibly versatile – having previously been a midfielder, he is now mainly a right-back but has also operated in the opposite full-back berth as well as at the heart of the defence.

In addition, Oyegoke is an England youth international, providing further evidence of his talent, even though his positioning requires some fine-tuning.

However, he has decided to leave and will hope that he can progress to regular senior football quicker elsewhere than he would have done at Arsenal.

Previously at Barnet, Oyegoke joined Arsenal in 2017 and made his debut for the U18s against Chelsea as an U15 player.

The youngster eventually progressed to scholarship terms in 2019 and made 21 appearances for the U23s as well as 12 for the U23s/U21s.

Arsenal will hope that winger Kido Taylor-Hart doesn’t follow suit in leaving the club, while we are also awaiting an update on the other remaining second year scholars – Nathan Butler-Oyedeji, Ovie Ejeheri and Mazeed Ogungbo.

With Oyegoke gone, Arsenal must move on, and thankfully they have another hugely talented academy right-back in Brooke Norton-Cuffy.

The Hale End product has already made a handful of appearances for the U23s, and, with Ryan Alebiosu having been made available for loan, Norton-Cuffy could be the second-string’s first-choice right-back, despite the fact that he will still be eligible for the U18s.

A diligent defender, Norton-Cuffy also provides a significant attacking threat, although, like Oyegoke, he needs to work on his positioning.

In turn, Reuell Walters, who has signed scholarship terms, could step up to feature heavily at right-back for the U18s.

Arsenal U18s, meanwhile, returned to London Colney today for pre-season, with midfielder Luigi Gaspar amongst those in attendance.

7 comments

  1. I wonder Jeorge, if you think that Oyegoke might have been made an attractive offer by a club like Brentford or Watford or Fulham for example, with the prospect of quicker elevation to a 1st team spot than Daniel could have expected at Arsenal given the competition in that position?

    1. Yeah I think that’s probably the case. He certainly seems like he could do well somewhere else.

      On Wed, 23 Jun 2021 at 00:21, Jeorge Bird's Arsenal Youth wrote:

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  2. I said this once before Okonkwo, oyegoke, ogungbo, oyedeji and ejeheri were all being touted around by their agent.

    Their contract offers were made a while back.

  3. To be honest this didn’t come as a surprise to me.

    I don’t know anything on the agent’s influence, but it seems Daniel made the smart choice (loyalty aside). He is indeed a talented right back, but either due to the intensity of the competition or due to the lack of defensive concept within the academy (or maybe due to incompetent coaches) he played only 1074 minutes the whole season – while was eligible for both U18 and U23 competition as well as the EFL Trophy – and (according to TransferMarkt) only lousy 160 (!) minutes at right back position.

    There might be mitigating factors behind that, including the top form of Alebiosu and Norton-Cuffy (with less competition at left back, especially with Lopez injured), but if he wants to be included in the youth national teams he needs more minutes in the proper position. He shouldn’t transform to CB either as his 178 cm heights wouldn’t “support” it, and Arsenal Academy is crawling with talented center backs anyway. So even without attractive offers (I don’t think there are huge differences in weekly salaries for 17-18 year old players, though) it would make sense to play even for a weaker U23 side, if he can play RB week in week out.

    Loyalty to the Academy, the coaches and the fellow players is indeed a nice thing. But a young player has to maximize his own development. There could be small compromises here and there, but when a club seems to disregard individual potential, then visiting training will simply not be enough to tie a player down for years.

  4. Enjoyed your insight on the Youth players on the recent Arseblog podcast Jeorge. Glad to see your good work getting some more exposure. keep up the good work!

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