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.