Meet the highly rated Arsenal kids who could step into the first team after academy transformation under Mertesacker


ANY signing Arsenal might consider in January must be tempered by the reality of the club’s autonomous model.

That being said, are the new hires of the summer more
exciting or rewarding to see your own local talents blossom in the famous red and white?


Arsenal legend Mertesacker has been credited with turning the Gunners’ academy into a haven for young starsCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd

The answer, at least for me, is an emphatic no, because nothing warms the heart of a true fan more than seeing your own youth product become part of the first team.

It is a joy that Arsenal fans have been long denied in the Wenger era with only Ashely Cole and Jack Wilshere really pierced.

Since the 1980s, when we saw Tony Adams, David Rocastle, Michael Thomas and Paul Merson form the backbone of George Graham’s winning teams, we haven’t been able to really cheer our own week, until now.

Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe are among the first names on Arteta’s
team sheet, and the latter has now joined his friend in the England team.

The hype around Hale End and his transformation under Per Mertesacker and his squad is tangible right now and this no doubt leads to expecting there to be more exciting young players threatening the first team in the near future.

On a note of warning, however, without additional Europa League football, and so many first-team players fail to get minutes, opportunities are scarce. But here are a few that could make the breakthrough …

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Charlie patino

I’m not sure there was any doubt that the buzz around Patino was deserved.

But if there was, it quickly evaporated once he scored with his first shot for the Gunners on his dream debut against Sunderland in the Carabao Cup.

The highly technical midfielder had to bench for the League Cup draw at home against AFC Wimbledon, only for Mo Elneny to declare himself fit.
and need minutes.

Arteta has had Patino in and around his team for over a year now and has
suggested that unlike Miguel Azeez who was loaned out at Portsmouth, the youngster will, like Saka before him, be allowed to progress without a loan.

Handing him over his highly anticipated debut against Sunderland is a sure sign that it could happen.

So, could this 18-year-old influence Arteta and Edu’s transfer plans as early as January?

Patino bowed out in the first team against Sunderland - and started off with a bang


Patino bowed out in the first team against Sunderland – and started off with a bangCredit: Getty

Omari hutchison

Close behind Patino in the ranks of the hype must be the thrilling and skillful talent of attacking midfielder Omari Hutchison.

Most comfortable just ahead of Patino in a 4-2-3-1, the gifted playmaker, like Smith Rowe, whom he must wish to emulate, can also play on either flank.

He especially likes to cut from the right to his left foot with explosive precision.

The youngster has some experience with the first team in the pre-season in Scotland and has, like his team-mate, been invited to train on several occasions.

Hutchinson can work his magic on either flank and has been compared to Smith-Rowe


Hutchinson can work his magic on either flank and has been compared to Smith-RoweCredit: Getty

Folarin Balogun

After a long time, won’t he sign a contract saga, I think most Arsenal fans expected to see a lot more of the striker this season. ‘

Certainly the few minutes that the youngster who scored for free was given to Eddie Nketiah was puzzled.

With five goals in three matches in November, the U23 skipper was voted Premier League Two player of the month.

Of course, being prolific and dominant at this level doesn’t always translate into seniors but he hasn’t really had enough opportunities to show it to us.

Mertesacker recently suggested that Balogun needed a loan and would be available in January, but since then Nketiah has confirmed that he will not be signing a loan.
new agreement and Aubameyang showed indiscipline.

Will these developments change the plans of the clubs?

Many fans hope so.

Balogun was linked with a loan in January, but he could end up staying put following Aubameyang's discipline issues


Balogun was linked with a loan in January, but he could end up staying put following Aubameyang’s discipline issuesCredit: Rex

Arthur okonkwo

With Ramsdale now confirmed as Arsenal’s number one, Arthur Okonkwo, 20, who has been at the club since the age of eight, could have an opportunity this season.

With former first-team goalkeeper Bernd Leno no longer in favor and starting possibly as early as January, the giant goalkeeper was recently promoted to the first-team squad.

With so many young goalies vying for the chance to take the plunge, the six-foot-five giant appears to have edged out his rivals.

Okonkwo could become Arsenal's No.2 if Leno leaves in January


Okonkwo could become Arsenal’s No.2 if Leno leaves in JanuaryCredit: Getty

While it might scare fans, it only takes one injury to Ramsdale for Okonkwo to be called up.

There are many others that I could cite such as the delicate winger Kido Taylor-Hart, the full Tunisian international central defender Omar Rekik, or the Danish striker Mika Biereth, who has made his mark since Arsenal pinched him at Fulham, but the reality is not these will get their chance until May.

However, I know all three are highly rated by the club so check this out
space comes summer and preseason for loans and chances in friendlies.

Follow David Seager Twitter for more views on Arsenal.


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