The Next Youngsters Set to Make Their Mark at Arsenal
After a difficult start to this season, Arsenal have recovered well to put themselves in contention for a place in the top four. Although Arsenal have traditionally been a Champions League club over the last 25 years, the fact they haven’t qualified for it since the 2016-17 season means that not many saw them even challenging for a place in next years competition. The fact Arsenal are doing so well in the league at the midway point of the season with the youngest team in the league is vindication for a shift in strategy that has seen the club target young players in the transfer market and build the team around them as well as those from the clubs famous Hale End academy.
The likes of Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith-Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli are leading the way for the Gunners this season with goals, assists, skills, and more importantly passion that fans at the Emirates haven’t seen for a long time. This has got fans already looking forward to the seeing the next talented youngsters emerge from the academy with the likes of Charlie Patino and Omari Hutchinson showcasing their talent in the under 23s, leading experts to predict that they will be the next young players to make an impact in the first team.
After a few years of baffling transfers as a result of muddled thinking, Arsenal have made a complete U-turn in terms of their transfer strategy, now targeting players under the age of 24. Encouraged by the impact that Emile Smith-Rowe and Bukayo Saka have had on the first team, promoting players from the academy has also been incorporated as part of the strategy, which is great news for the clubs young players.
Additionally, the atypical nature of next season, due to the winter World Cup in Qatar, will increase the need for clubs to use academy players. The effects of fixture congestion in football are well documented, players are at greater risk of injury and the quality of competition is reduced. To combat these risks, we’re sure to see Arsenal further utilise their talented youngers, particularly in cup games when key players need to be rested.
Charlie Patino is a name that has had Gooner tongues wagging for a long time with fans enjoying videos of him displaying his supreme technical gifts in youth team fixtures. The 18-year-old midfielder is a talented passer who dominates games through intelligent positioning, crisp passing and classy combination play. Born a stone’s throw away from Hale end in Hertfordshire, Patino started his career at non-league St Albans City, before moving to Luton Town. In 2011 Arsenal paid a reported fee of £10,000 to secure his services and he has not looked back, making rapid progress through the different age group teams. He enjoyed a dream debut in December 2021, scoring with almost his first touch. Fans are hoping to see more of him soon, and while we can be sure Arteta will ease him in slowly, there are sure to be plenty of opportunities next season with Arsenal being so short in midfield.
Another talented left-footer getting Arsenal fans excited for the future is Omari Hutchinson, an electric attacker who looks set to follow in the footsteps of Bukayo Saka. Like Arsenal’s number 7, Hutchinson is a versatile player who has featured on both wings, as well as at left back and in midfield for Arsenal’s youth teams. Hutchinson has been famous since he went viral as a 12-year-old five years ago when he was featured in a YouTube video showcasing his freestyle skills. Now 17, he is impressing fans with end product to go with his dazzling skills, he recently scored a stunning solo goal against Chelsea under 23s at the Emirates. He has been involved in recent squads due to player unavailability, so we should be seeing more if him in the coming years. With Arsenal’s attack looking in need of some extra spark when the big guns are missing, Hutchinson will hope he can make an impact in the near future.