Arsenal have produced huge talents over recent years under the tutelage of Arsene Wenger – from the likes of Ashley Cole to current stars like Kieran Gibbs and most notably, perhaps the biggest success stories in Jack Wilshere, Francis Coquelin, Hector Bellerin and Alex Iwobi.
The 19-year-old Nigerian put in supremely confident performances against both Barcelona and Everton after starting in all but one of Arsenal’s FA Cup ties this season and looks every bit the part to impress and develop into a first-team regular under Wenger.
With a number of players graduating from the Hale End academy and going on to next success, who is the next in line to step up to first-team action?
We’ve taken a look at five players who may just announce themselves on the first-team stage within the next season or two.
Arsenal’s under-21 captain is a fantastic defender and joined the north London side from Barcelona, after graduating from the La Masia academy. Like recent talents Bellerin and Cesc Fabregas, Pleguezuelo is expected to have a fruitful Arsenal career.
The Spaniard, at just 19-years-old, is already a player who possesses an attitude beyond his years and has shown the leadership skills to become the captain of the first-team one day. Pleguezuelo is a good tackler of the ball, equally as adept at keeping possession, is rarely caught out of position and has been assigned the task of helping to develop the talents of Krystian Bielik, who originally a central defensive midfielder, has formed a mean partnership alongside the captain for the under-21’s.
Definitely one to look out for.
Everyone knows about Zelalem. He’s a superbly talented footballer and was sent out on loan earlier this season to Scottish giants Rangers in order to try and fast track his development.
A central midfielder, the American has a lot of talent and is comfortable on the ball, but will take his time about getting into the squad because it is blessed with plenty of talent at a respectable age at the moment. Zelalem is similar to Santi Cazorla in the way that he holds onto the ball and can spray cutting edge passes around in the final third.
If he can add a goalscoring touch, could be a dangerous, dangerous talent.
Crowley, an attacking midfielder, is most comfortable just behind the striker with a license to roam around the final third with the ball at his feet.
The 19-year-old is a confident talent and established himself as a key member of the under-21 squad but was sent out on loan to Championship side Barnsley where he excelled. Despite the fact that it was a short loan, Wenger was left impressed by Crowley. A midfielder who has a keen eye for goal and loves playing intricate passes, Crowley is a big talent.
Previously the captain of the under-18’s, Crowley will either head out on loan next season for the full campaign or will threaten to get into the first-team, having already featured in pre-season against the Singapore Select XI.
Perhaps the biggest threat to the current first-team squad, Toral is expected to stay at Arsenal next season after a hugely impressive loan spell at Birmingham City.
The 21-year-old has scored seven goals and bagged himself three assists for the Championship side this season from midfield and is a typical Spaniard in his play, comfortable on the ball and good in the final third. A good way to describe Toral is efficient, he gets the job done but in style.
Was recently awarded both the Player and Goal of the Season at the Birmingham Junior Player awards, for his ridiculous strike against Ipswich Town.
Mavididi has become the undisputed no.9 for the under-21’s and has really taken his chance this season. He has trained regularly with the first-team and is likely to go out on loan next season in order to test his real competitive edge.
A proper goalscorer who is strong and similar to Olivier Giroud in his ability but also possesses an athletic side and is agile off the ball.
The 18-year-old is skilful with the ball at his feet and broke into the under-21’s side this season after an impressive stint with the under-18’s. Could be a big goalscoring talent for Arsenal in the years to come.
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