Arsenal’s pre-season squad landed in Australia this morning, the first part of their two country trip of Australia and China.
Although missing the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Shkodran Mustafi, Arsene Wenger named a fairly strong squad, including Mesut Ozil and new signings Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac.
The pre-season is a crucial time for any club as it builds the fitness levels of the team and gives the manager time to establish his lineup for the beginning of the season. The pre-seaosn also provides a platform for youth players to showcase their talents with hope of breaking into the first-team.
Here we look at three youth stars that you need to keep an eye on over the next few weeks.
The seventeen-year-old joined the Hale End Academy in 2008 and has been one of the biggest prospects at Arsenal ever since. At only 17-years-old, Nelson has become an integral member of Arsenal’s under-23 squad, making 25 appearances last season and 12 in the UEFA Youth League. Wenger has confirmed that Nelson will play a part in the first-team this season and if he has a solid pre-season, he may well feature for Arsenal in the cups and possibly in the Europa League.
Capable of playing on either wing, Nelson is a threat going forward and possesses plenty of pace. Moreover, the England under-17 international is gifted enough to play through the middle and is capable of achieving double figures in goals and assists. Arsene Wenger is obviously a fan of the youngster and could well use him as one of the forwards in behind the main striker.
The tall Polish teenager has been in the thoughts of the Arsenal faithful ever since he made his move from Legia Warsaw where Bielik broke into the first-team at just 16-years-old and was duly snapped up in January 2015. Having completed a loan spell at Birmingham, he may hope for some extra minutes for Arsenal if they keep playing with three centre-backs. He made eight starts in the Championship last term and is expected to play more games this season. With Koscielny out for the first two games of the season, Gabriel injured and Mustafi, Chambers and Holding having extended holidays, that may come very soon.
One of the jewels of the Arsenal academy, Nketiah is a very dangerous player in and around the penalty area. He scored 28 goals in 2016/17 for the under-18s, under-23s and for England last year and 24 goals for Arsenal’s under-18s the previous year – an incredible goalscoring record.
At only 18, Nketiah’s future looks very bright. This pre-season, he has a good chance of making the first-team squad, although it will be hard with Welbeck, Giroud, Sanchez and Lacazette ahead of him. Small, yet quick, Nketiah is a striker that will run the channels and put himself in areas to score, much like, dare I say it, Ian Wright. Another year with the reserves looks likely but if he has a strong pre-season, Nketiah could well feature in the cups. Watch out for his goalscoring exploits next year.
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