When blogging on Arsenal, occasionally, a story of some importance goes undetected and it was only by chance that I came across it whilst researching something else. Much has been made of Arsenal’s emerging academy talents and there has been a strong suggestion both in development terms and because of financial limitations, that the youth players would become a feature during Unai Emery’s reign.
Yet, the season just gone wasn’t remarkable for its use of youth and hot prospect Joe Willock finally got a game against Burley, when there was nothing at stake.
Well the surprise news is that Julio Pleguezuelo, the 22-year-old Spanish central defender, who joined Arsenal from Barcelona in 2013, has been released for free.
Pleguezuelo, who many thought was destined for great things, is heading to play for FC Twente in the Netherlands.
⚽ Julio, bienvenido a #fctwente 💪
— FC Twente (@fctwente) May 21, 2019
Then came the news that Charlie Gilmour, the 20-year-old Scottish midfielder, had also been released. I had followed the youngster as much as possible and again it seemed he had a long Arsenal career ahead of him.
Is this a case of Arsenal watering the weeds but pulling up the roses ?
Are the inevitable cutbacks due to financial restructuring and managerial prudence going to cost us a handful of homegrown stars ?
I’d hate to think that’s the case but talking to fans, you sense that they are equally confused at the two decisions. Let’s hope that the desire to challenge isn’t about to make us less focused on our future talent. I understand that we will have to bring in personnel for a number of positions but it’s about balance, it’s about providing opportunity and nurturing talent.
Gazidis, the instigator of Arsenal’s current plight said before appointing Unai Emery:
“We had some criteria when we were looking for in our selection, the first was progressive, entertaining football, a personality that fits with Arsenal’s values and also a record of developing players, in particular young players through detailed, tactical instruction and also through cultural demands, pushing players and demanding more from them.”
In a way, as supporters, we want our cake and eat it. Success and trophies are a priority, but fans also want to see the Academy players introduced into the fray. Some say that the two don’t go together but if the balance is right, then why not.
On the plus side, it’s said that Freddie Ljungberg is due to replace Steve Bould as Emery’s assistant and this could act as the perfect conduit for the youth players into the first team, because of his role with the under 23’s.
I’d rather contemplate this scenario than the one, where Arsenal embark on an extensive loan programme and selling spree, I don’t think they could possibly be that stupid.
The last 18 months has been a revelation for the cause of youth players in English football.
In the premiership and at International level, youth players were regarded as a risk but now it seems, clubs realise that they will have to find talent from within, rather than buy it, especially when it costs multiple millions to do so.
Chelsea were deeply reluctant to use its youth players under Mourinho and at one stage, the special one had 30 players on loan in various locations, but under Sarri, Loftus-Cheek has emerged as a star of the future.
When you consider the depth and potential of Arsenal’s youth players, the club appears to be fairly well set and could save themselves millions in the process. Emery has sounded positive about the inclusion of youth players but due to circumstances.