During Arsene Wenger’s 22-year reign, the Frenchman signed many youngsters in hope that they would become an integral part of the team. At a young age, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were brought in and dubbed as future superstars. However, the duo has failed to live up to expectations at the Emirates. Towards the end of his career, Wenger started to turn to the academy players.
Now that Unai Emery is in charge, it is not known how he will accommodate the youngsters. Deploying the academy players in domestic cup matches has been Wenger’s managerial style. That gave him a good opportunity to find out who he can promote to the senior team and allow to gain more experience in Premier League. There is little doubt that Emery would do the same with the Arsenal team he has inherited. Here is a look at three Arsenal youngsters who could soon make a breakthrough in Emery’s senior squad.
Arsenal Youth Players
The young Englishman made 32 appearances for Arsenal in the 2017/18 season with the majority coming in the Premier League. His natural position is as a midfielder, but Wenger has opted to play him elsewhere initially. When senior left-back Nacho Monreal was injured, Maitland-Niles stepped up and emerged as a reliable defender for his side.
His game was not flawless but it showed his potential and maturity. The 20-year-old has to improve his cross accuracy which was just 25% this season. On the other hand, he was pretty effective in his tackles. Out of the 25 tackles he made, 68% of them were successful. There is certainly still plenty of room for improvement for the youngster, but things are looking bright.
As compared to Reiss Nelson, a fellow Arsenal academy product, there has been less hype about Maitland-Niles. Although the limelight is not on him, he continues to work extremely hard with every opportunity handed to him. According to Ivan Gadis, the new Spanish manager is extremely keen to work with Maitland-Niles. That could pave the way for Arsenal fans to see him more frequently next season.
Mavropanos joined Arsenal in January after a strong recommendation from scout Sven Mislintat. He was initially due to join another club on loan until the end of the season. However, Wenger changed his mind and kept the youngster. The Greek defender put up a great performance against Premier League rivals, Manchester United. He stood strong and calm in the center of the defense throughout the match. In just two matches, he showed signs that he could possibly become one of the strongest defenders playing in England.
His lack of experience was probably the reason why he received a straight red in Arsenal’s loss to Leicester City. That aside, it had been a great chance for Mavropanos to adapt and learn how the rest of the squad works. With Laurent Koscielny absent for the first few months of the new season, the younger players would have to fill his position. At the same time, Shkodran Mustafi has not had the greatest of times times at Arsenal. The German defender was one of those who dragged the team down. Arsenal’s young guns including Mavropanos could seek this time to make a breakthrough.
According to various sources, the club is close to signing Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Dortmund. The center-back is highly experienced and has played over 130 games for the Bundesliga giants. Sokratis could become a vital player in helping his compatriot integrate into the team and develop further. There are many signs pointing towards the possibility of Mavropanos having a bright future at Arsenal.
He is one of the young stars that Arsenal fans are raving about. In Premier League 2, the 18-year-old scored 12 goals in 13 games. Nketiah is recognized as an extremely lethal striker in front of goal. The teenager was previously at Chelsea. After his release, the North London club signed him and are looking to make good use of the player.
Recently, Nketiah received his first England U-21 call-up. There is hope that he can truly develop into a prolific striker and live up to the standards set. Paris Saint-Germain youngster, Kylian Mbappe, just applauded Emery’s efforts in developing him. Judging from how the former Sevilla coach works, he could give the youngsters plenty of opportunities to have a run and let them impress the fans.
Although Nketiah lacks the height to challenge the defenders in aerial duels, he can utilize his pace to exploit those caught out of position. As long as he tries hard, there is no reason why Emery will leave him out of the senior squad. Nketiah may not find himself in the starting line-up anytime soon but he can serve as a great backup striker on the bench. His progress in the club is dependent on Emery.