In 2015, Arsenal handed over £10,000 to Luton in exchange for a 12-year-old Charlie Michael Patino. Today, Patino is one of the highest-rated players in the Arsenal youth setup. At 18 years of age, he has notched up 12 appearances for the Arsenal U-23 team and has one goal and one assist to show for it
The midfielder made his Arsenal senior team debut against Sunderland in the Carabao Cup this year. He scored the team’s 5th and final goal in a 5-1 rout. He also made his England U-19 debut in a 3-1 win against Mexico on 9th October 2021.
Patino is a ball-playing midfielder. He stated that former Arsenal players Santi Cazorla and Cesc Fabregas as well as ex-player and current manager Mikel Arteta have had major influences on his playing style. In his own words:
“I’ve always had an appreciation for that Spanish style of play. Growing up I adored Santi Cazorla as a player. Cesc Fabregas and Mikel Arteta were some of my favourites too. But there’s something about Santi for me and the qualities that he had – he was something else.”
Charlie Michael Patino is left-footed and functions in the number 8 role. He is a player who likes to pick the ball up deeper in his defensive half. He is comfortable with the ball at his feet and an adept dribbler. He likes to drop deeper to pick the ball up in his own half. The Englishman has excellent vision and execution to pick out runners behind the opposition defence.
The Ex-Luton midfielder also utilises his body well in defence. He often assists his defenders in regaining possession to kickstart attacks from the defensive half.
Patino isn’t a particularly high-volume shooter. Most of his game happens in the middle third of the field, progressing the ball and supplying the wingers and forwards. But in and around the box, the Englishman has a dangerous left-foot and a keen eye for goal.
For example, his goal against Manchester United in the PL-2 earlier this year is a testament to the profile he offers. Patino won the ball by himself, shrugged off a couple of challenges before comfortably slotting the ball into the net.
His ideal role would, perhaps, be as an interior in a 4-3-3. This allows him to traverse the field effectively and pick out pockets of space with or without the ball. Furthermore, the interior role does not demand the same attacking output or defensive work rate as a 10 or 6 role in a 4-2-3-1.
In the Premier League, against more compact defences and better organised pressing schemes, the English U-19 professional will have a harder challenge. The youngster will not be offered the same amount of time and space with the ball as he often finds currently.
While his close control is outstanding, at times, his body orientation or a poor first touch means he often receives the ball under immediate pressure. These are wrinkles that will be ironed out with time and experience, however.
What Others Have Said:
Goal quoted Arsenal scout Bill Stapleton:
“Of all the years I’ve been scouting, he’s the best kid I’ve ever seen. I got a tip off about Charlie from a guy, so I went over there and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. He was 11 and I think he was playing in the Under-13s, and I was like ‘wow’.”
“His first touch was unbelievable, his vision, his awareness of space. He was way above his years, he was on another planet to anyone else on the pitch.”
“I made a phone call to my head of my department at Arsenal at the time, Sean O’Connor. He asked what I thought and I said, ‘well, I’m not coming back again. I don’t need to see any more, you need to sign this kid straight away.’”
Steve Morrow, former head of youth recruitment at Arsenal, also noted,
“It was clear Charlie was a special talent. We were aware there was a lot of interest in him so we had to move quickly to get it done.”
Charlie Michael Patino is very good, there are no two ways about it. His development has been compared to Phil Foden, another English left-footed attacking midfielder. There is a big gulf in quality between the lower divisions and the Premier League, and it is not fair to expect all players to make the transition smoothly.
With an uncut diamond-like Patino, Arteta and Arsenal will have to cautiously phase the youngster into the schematics of the first team. The Englishman’s stock has already risen with a ten-minute cameo against Sunderland, and the management must protect the youngster from unrealistic comparisons and overburden him with too high expectations.
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The biggest opportunity for Charlie Michael Patino could be the uncertainty over the Covid situation in the Premier League right now. Any sort of delay in fixtures or a break could result in congestion of matches in the upcoming months. With Arsenal competing for a place in the top 4, as well as the FA Cup and Carabao Cup, Arteta may want to rotate his squad a little more.
Players like Smith Rowe, Saka and Odegaard will have to be kept fresh for bigger games. This could potentially open up a window for Patino to register substitute minutes in the Premier League, and maybe even a couple of starts. Based on performances in the said minutes, a decision could be taken on whether Charlie Michael Patino is ready to make the jump over to the first team, or requires a little more time in the youth set-up. And we would not bet against the management deciding on the former.