Arsenal’s Reiss Nelson set to reap the benefits of London Colney step-up

Reiss Nelson’s breakthrough into Arsenal’s U18 squad towards the end of last season was one of the very few salvageable moments of solace to take from what was a wretched campaign for the club at that level.

The youngster, who doesn’t turn 16 until December, made three starts for Frans De Kat’s side in addition to featuring on a further three occasions as a substitute. Skilful, creative and quick, he has long been earmarked as a potential talent of the future, a point that has been further evidenced by the club’s decision to allow him to train full time at London Colney this season, despite the fact that he is still a schoolboy.

In doing so Nelson will be following in the footsteps of Jack Wilshere and Chuba Akpom, who both spent their final year as an U16 player training with players who were older than them. Whether Nelson will follow Wilshere and Akpom in one day making the first-team set-up remains to be seen, but the decision to allow him to train with the U18 squad, for whom he will surely make a substantial amount of appearances this season, appears to be a very wise one.

Capable of playing out wide or, alternatively, as an attacking-midfielder, Nelson has represented England at U15 and U16 levels, but it is when playing for Arsenal that he has had the most significant impact, with the Hale End product featuring frequently for the U16 team last season when he was still an U15 player.

Today Nelson travelled with the rest of the U18 squad for a five-day training camp in the Netherlands as the preparations for the new season intensified a little. Should he impress sufficiently, Nelson may well find himself in contention to feature in the Arsenal XI friendly against Bournemouth at the training ground on July 11th.

Nelson, as can be gleaned from his rapid development over the last few years, is used to developing quickly. It may not be too much longer before he starts to garner even more attention.

Crowley amongst the Arsenal youngsters hoping for first-team involvement this pre-season

Most of Arsenal’s youngsters have already been in pre-season training for a couple of days but tomorrow the preparations for the new season will intensify when they are joined by a selection of players from the first-team squad.

Thirteen members of Arsene Wenger’s squad, those who didn’t have any international commitments over the summer, are due back at London Colney tomorrow, with Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker, Gabriel, Mikel Arteta, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Nacho Monreal, Mathieu Flamini, Danny Welbeck, Emiliano Martinez, Yaya Sanogo, Francis Coquelin, Krystian Bielik and Hector Bellerin all falling into that category.

With the first batch of international players not set to return until the following week, there should be plenty of opportunities over the next few days for some members of the U21 squad to train with the first-team players. One player who will almost certainly be involved is Wellington, with the winger eager to kick-start his Arsenal career after five loan spells in Spain. The Brazilian faces an important summer as far as his development is concerned with Wenger having to decide whether to retain the youngster and name him in the 25-man Premier League squad for the new season.

Others have more time on their side. Dan Crowley, for instance, is yet to earn a first-team call-up, but the young midfielder will be seeking to impress sufficiently to earn himself a place on the plane to Asia for the next stage of pre-season. The former Aston Villa player doesn’t turn 18 until August but he was outstanding on some occasions for the U21s last season and will be hoping to make inroads into the first-team set-up this year.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles has been strongly linked with a loan move to Ipswich Town in recent weeks, but such a move is yet to materialise and he is set to start the week training with Arsenal. Another player who shone at U21 level in 2014/15, the Hale End product should be involved in the early sessions, where he could be joined by Julio Pleguezuelo, Alex Iwobi and Stefan O’Connor. Goalkeepers Matt Macey and Deyan Iliev could also train with the seniors.

It is an important pre-season for some of the more established youngsters, too, with Gedion Zelalem seeking to assert himself, whilst Chuba Akpom and Isaac Hayden will be looking to do likewise, although they may be given a little longer off after they represented England U20s. Jon Toral will be seeking to prove his worth after featuring on loan for Brentford last season.

One of the most intriguing aspects of pre-season is that there are usually one or two younger players who are unexpectedly involved in first-team proceedings. Last year, for instance, Chris Willock featured in the opening friendly against Boreham Wood, and he will be hoping to be called upon again. Tyrell Robinson, Kaylen Hinds, Chiori Johnson and Tafari Moore have a chance of at least being involved in some of the senior training sessions.

New acquisition Vlad Dragomir will start training tomorrow and it will be interesting to see how French youngsters Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Yassin Fortune adapt to English football. Those players, though, are expected to train with the youth team initially and could make their debuts in the friendly against Bournemouth on July 11th.

Chances to impress for youngsters during this pre-season may well be scarce, with the bulk of the squad set to return in time for the club’s participation in the Asia Trophy. The uncertainty over the futures of some players (such as Lukas Podolski and Sanogo) may provide some chances for youth players to impress, but, barring a multitude of injuries, Wenger should have most of his squad available for the majority of pre-season, with the notable exceptions of Alexis Sanchez, David Ospina and Calum Chambers.

Arsenal usually operate with a training group of 23 players. With 13 members of the first-team squad due to be in attendance tomorrow, that means that there are likely to be ten spaces for youngsters, including two goalkeepers. Who will fill those positions? An educated guess would suggest that the players most likely to be involved are Macey, Iliev, O’Connor, Pleguezuelo, Robinson, Maitland-Niles, Toral, Crowley, Wellington and Iwobi, although, as alluded to, several others are also in contention.

Some difficult decisions will have to be made the following week when 12 further members of the squad report back for training, with only the youngsters who have impressed the most standing any chance of travelling with the squad to Asia.

Arsenal sign Jordi Emmanuel Osei-Tutu from Reading 

Arsenal have made another acquisition for their new scholarship intake after completing the signing of Reading youngster Jordi Emmanuel Osei-Tutu.

The prospect has been with Reading for eight years but is excited to be joining up with Arsenal’s new batch of scholars. The 16-year-old is capable of playing as a right-back or a winger.

Arsenal have already signed Romanian midfielder Vlad Dragomir, Cypriot defender Kostas Pileas and French youngsters Yassin Fortune and Jeff Reine-Adelaide.

Dragomir outlines first-team ambitions with pre-season set to get underway



It emerged today that Romanian U16 captain Vlad Dragomir will become the latest addition to Arsenal’s U18 squad for the new campaign and the promising youngster has already outlined his desire to break into the senior squad at a later date.

Dragomir, who is scheduled to arrive in London on Sunday, said: “In a year or two, I want to play for the Arsenal first-team.” That will certainly be a difficult aim to achieve, given that players as talented as Gedion Zelalem and Dan Crowley still find themselves on the fringes of the senior set-up two years after joining the club.

However, Dragomir’s ambition is commendable and the central-midfielder will be looking to impress in what is set to be a new-look Arsenal youth side next season.

Dragomir isn’t expected to start training until Monday, but many of the club’s new scholars will begin training full time at London Colney from tomorrow. Hale End products Marcus Tabi, Joshua Da Silva, Nathan Tella, Charlie Gilmour, Eddie Nketiah, Tolaji Bola and Joe Willock will be joined by highly-rated schoolboy Reiss Nelson, who will be training with Frans De Kat’s side on a regular basis despite technically being an U16 player.

New acquisitions Kostas Pileas, Yassin Fortune and Jeff Reine-Adelaide are also expected to link up with the squad in the next few days, with Arsenal poised to officially confirm the new intake of scholars next week.

The second-years are also due back at training shortly. This group includes players who have already signed professional contracts (Kristopher Da Graca, Kaylen Hinds, Chiori Johnson, Tyrell Robinson, Ben Sheaf and Chris Willock) as well as those who are still on scholarship deals (Marc Bola, Ilias Chatzitheodoridis, Harry Donovan, Aaron Eyoma, Hugo Keto, Stephy Mavididi and Savvas Mourgos).

In all, 25 players are expected to train with the U18 squad for the first few days of pre-season, with George Dobson currently on trial at London rivals West Ham United.

On Monday it is expected that the majority of the remaining young professionals will return to training, along with the members of the first-team squad who didn’t have international commitments this summer.

Based on this logic, it is believed that the following players will return to training next week as preparations begin for the club’s involvement in the Premier League Asia Trophy:

Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker, Gabriel, Mikel Arteta, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Nacho Monreal, Mathieu Flamini, Danny Welbeck, Emiliano Martinez, Francis Coquelin, Hector Bellerin, Yaya Sanogo, Krystian Bielik, Ryan Huddart, Deyan Iliev, Alex Iwobi, Matt Macey, Tafari Moore, Julio Pleguezuelo, Jon Toral, Wellington, Dan Crowley, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Stefan O’Connor.

Isaac Hayden, Chuba Akpom and Glen Kamara will join up slightly later after participating in youth internationals, whilst the majority of the rest of the squad will most probably return in mid-July (Kieran Gibbs, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Laurent Koscielny, Olivier Giroud, Tomas Rosicky, Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, Wojciech Szczesny, Gedion Zelalem, Joel Campbell).

Meanwhile, Alexis Sanchez, David Ospina, Calum Chambers, Carl Jenkinson and Serge Gnabry aren’t due back until much later due to their ongoing involvement in summer tournaments, with the club usually giving players around a month off from the date they exited the competition. That means that the above players (at least those that are still at the club) are unlikely to be involved in the Emirates Cup at the end of July and will also be short of fitness going into the new Premier League season.

Reports- Arsenal sign Vlad Dragomir 

According to reports Arsenal have made their fourth young signing of the transfer window after securing a deal for Romanian U16 captain Vlad Dragomir.

It has been suggested that the Gunners have struck a deal to sign Dragomir, a 16 year old central midfielder who impressed for Poli Timosoara.

Central-midfield was a problem position for Arsenal at youth level last season and it is hoped that Dragomir will help the young Gunners to experience an upturn in fortunes at U18 level in the new season.

Arsenal have already completed deals for Cypriot defender Kostas Pileas and exciting French prospects Yassin Fortune and Jeff Reine-Adelaide.

Arsenal’s George Dobson trains with West Ham

Arsenal youngster George Dobson has been training with West Ham United this week ahead of a possible move to the East London club.

It became clear at the end of last season that the 17-year-old, who has progressed through the ranks with the Gunners, would be moving on to pastures new for the 2015/16 campaign, although it had previously been suggested that Newcastle United would be his destination.

However, yesterday Dobson, who can play as a centre-back or a defensive-midfielder, trained with West Ham, suggesting that a move to Slaven Bilic’s side could soon be on the cards for the youngster.

Dobson broke into Arsenal’s U18 team as a schoolboy and featured for the U21s last season during the first year of his scholarship. However, it is believed that he is finding it difficult to envisage himself making the grade at Arsenal with several players ahead of him in both of his preferred positions, not least Krystian Bielik, who, despite being younger than Dobson, was immediately promoted to the first-team squad when he joined the club earlier this year.

Dobson remains under contract with Arsenal having signed his first professional deal last November, meaning that the club would receive a fee should a move materialise.

Meanwhile, Arsenal’s new scholars are set to start training themselves this week and they could be joined by three new signings in defender Kostas Pileas and French youngsters Yassin Fortune and Jeff Reine-Adelaide, who are believed to have completed their moves to the club.

Jenkinson impresses but Chambers left frustrated as England U21s beat Sweden



Carl Jenkinson delivered a hugely impressive performance as England U21s kept their hopes of reaching the latter stages of the European Championships alive with a 1-0 victory over Sweden today.

The win was secured courtesy of a sweet strike from Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard, who had been introduced as a substitute.

England’s performance was hugely frustrating at times, with Gareth Southgate’s side, who lost to Portugal in their opening group game, struggling to create many clear-cut chances despite playing some neat possession-based football. However, they eventually prevailed and looked a more dangerous outfit as a consequence of Southgate’s decision to introduce Danny Ings at the start of the second-half.

When the opportunities did arrive, Jenkinson was usually heavily involved. On one occasion the right-back, who spent last season at West Ham United, delivered an excellent cross, with Harry Kane unable to convert.

Jenkinson has been linked with a loan move to Sunderland in recent days and his attacking qualities were on display here as he produced several further crosses, whilst he also missed a chance to find the net himself in the second-half.

The jury is still out on Jenkinson’s defensive capabilities, but he must be commended for his attacking endeavours.

Whilst one Arsenal defender is enjoying the tournament, the same can’t be said for another member of the England squad, Calum Chambers, who was an un-used substitute in each of England’s first two games.

Chambers’ omission from Southgate’s starting line-up was a little surprising given that he already has three senior caps to his name, with the former Southampton player surely representing a better alternative to Leicester City’s Liam Moore at centre-back. Chambers has endured a frustrating 2015 so far having been edged out of the first-team picture at Arsenal as a consequence of the development of Hector Bellerin and the signing of Gabriel.

His inclusion in the England squad for this tournament will, despite his lack of involvement so far, impinge upon his pre-season plans with Arsenal, with the Gunners usually giving players a month off after international excursions, meaning Chambers could miss the club’s involvement in the Premier League Asia Trophy.

However, he is a player with much potential and will surely be afforded further opportunities to impress with Arsenal, preferably at centre-back, at a later date.

Both England and Sweden named an Arsenal academy graduate on their bench today in Benik Afobe and Kristoffer Olsson respectively.

Arsenal’s other representative at this tournament is Serge Gnabry, with the German youngster being introduced for the final ten minutes as his nation beat Denmark 3-0 yesterday.