Crowley leads the way as youth signings take shape


First the cull, then the repercussions. After 15 youngsters saw their careers at the club come to an end last month, plans are now in place regarding how those players will be replaced.

One significant signing has already been made for the U18 squad, with highly-rated England U17 midfielder Dan Crowley completing his move to the club from Aston Villa last weekend. Crowley is certainly no stranger to the Arsenal coaching staff having almost single-handedly orchestrated Villa’s victory over the young Gunners in the Academy League at London Colney towards the end of last season.

The midfielder does not turn 16 until August but possesses vision and a sense of calm in possession that belie his years. It will be especially interesting to see how he is deployed during his first season at the club, with a range of other midfield talents- including Chuks Aneke, Gedion Zelalem, Kristoffer Olsson, Jon Toral and Jack Jebb also on the club’s books. It is expected that Crowley will commence in the U18s, but, should he impress sufficiently, could be elevated to the U21 set-up in the early months of the season.

French striker Yaya Sanogo is also expected to join, although once that deal is complete he is likely to take a place in the first-team squad, whilst, according to reports emanating from Italy last night, the club are also in talks to sign Aleksandar Mitrovic, an 18 year old Serbian striker who currently plays for Partizan Belgrade.

Add that to the impending deal to sign Barcelona defender Julio Pleguezuelo Selva, and the possible captures of several players who have been on trial with the club in recent months, and it appears that there could be several incomings as well as outgoings at youth level this summer.

The U21 squad could certainly do with a few more arrivals. At present, following the mass clear-out, there are only 19 players who would fall into that age group that are not still eligible for the U18s, and, with the likelihood of injuries, first-team call-ups and loans to follow, that number will tumble rapidly as the season progresses, meaning that further recruits are likely.

The club have also yet to confirm where the U21s will be playing the majority of their home games next season following Barnet’s decision to leave Underhill. There was speculation that Arsenal could buy Barnet’s old ground, or instead play their second-string games at Boreham Wood, but perhaps the best option would be to make use of Barnet’s impressive new facility in Edgware, The Hive, which has a playing surface comparable to that at Emirates Stadium.

Jeorge Bird is the author of  Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird


  1. I would really hope that our Academy standards improve to such a level that we don’t need to buy youngsters from other academies. Nonetheless, Welcome Dan Crowley!

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    • That doesn’t necessarily always work. A lot of these players go to academies nearer to home. Can’t always pick up Romford Peles through our Academy. It’s a bit like a public boarding school – the catchment area has to be international otherwise there’s not enough supply to meet demand.

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      • @ Zorro in the box – I fully agree with your point. Although I feel training quality should be top notch to get the best out of kids aged 9-15. For that our youth development system should consist of really good coaches and staff.

        Having said that, we are a club based out of London (largest city in the country), we do have a huge size of kids we could choose from. Also, obviously Arsenal need to start winning and build a brand which would attract kids to our club rather than Sp*rs, Chelsea and other London based clubs.

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        • The thing is, London also has a lot more clubs to pull from a small talent pool. Spurs, Chelsea, Fulham, Crystal Palace and West Ham in the PL alone. Add to that QPR (lol), Watford, Charlton etc and there’s a lot of pull on those youngsters as to where to go.

          And it’s not so much about the quality of the brand, as a young footballer it may be better to go somewhere like Charlton and make the step up (Carl Jenkinson for example) rather than sit in Chelsea’s academy and know that you’re unlikely to ever make it in the first team (because the manager can’t plan for a future he’s not likely to be a part of).

          I also think that economic demographics play a large part. In places like Brazil and parts of Spain and Portugal football represents a lot more than just a career or a sport with potential. Football’s a way out of poverty or rock bottom. It’s not just a case of using talent it’s the chance of a lifetime to better your lot. I just think it means a lot more to players from certain places/countries purely because of the wider ramifications. Drogba is revered in his country because he’s made it to the big time and then used it to help others around him.

          I’m not saying we don’t have the same drive in some players but it’s the incentive that Catalans can have when they join La Masia for example. That they’re working to help themselves and their families have a better life.

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      • Add to that that talent alone doesn’t suffice in any way to make it as a professional footballer, at a certain level they can all play aqnd it becomes a test of mental strength.

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    • It’s nothing like a level playing field.

      Barcelona’s La Masia has the whole of Catalonia at its disposal and then some.

      Arsenal are competing with Sp*rs, Chelsea, West Ham, Fulham etc. … Watford etc. … Crystal Palace … Leyton Orient etc. … in London alone.

      Anyone who thinks recruiting locally is going to work had better think again. Buying-in aged 16-18 is a good supplementary strategy.

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      • Indeed, it’s part of why Villa have such a good youth setup; second biggest city in England and only one club to speak of, means a lot of talent to pick from.

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        • The thing im worried about is that there are not enough academies who are following our lead and trying to bring through youth as well as buying someone established players. By the look of things Southampton have possibly the best success rate in bringing through players.

          There should maybe more rules placed to increase home grown players within a squad and actual playing time rather than having teams like Chelsea and City who meet the bare minimum but not use them and serious fines so that they bother.

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    • Academies don’t ‘produce’ talents, the best they can do is to discover them and make the most of their potential – Wilshere was at Luton until he was 9, Gibbs was at Wimbledon until he was 15, Beckham was at Spurs until he was 15, Giggs was at City until he was 14, Scholes joined at the same age etc.

      I remember Wenger saying some time ago that 11 or 12 years old is too late to ‘learn’ technique – the fundamental skills have to be there as early as that or it’ll be very difficult for the kid to make it, certainly at Arsenal’s level. One suggestive example – Walcott didn’t kick a ball until he was 9 or 10, Wilshere was already playing at 4. In that sense, it’s a credit to Theo that he’s quite as good as he is.

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  2. Welcome to Arsenal!

    Sounds like quite a prospect. Looking forward to see what the coming signings will be like, there should be plenty of activity at this level.

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    • You have a curious idea how these deals work. Do you really think it is Wenger personally who jets around the world, sitting on the negotiating table and concluding tranfers? Don’t you think we have, you know, staff for this, and that this staff consists of more than one person that is not Wenger?

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  3. Tidy little player. Skillful and fairly quick. Seems a fairly typical Arsenal player. One for the future and I wish him all the best with the Cannon now on his chest!

    I can’t believe this is a summer I’m actually looking forward to in terms of Arsenal transfers!


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  4. I predict that this crowley boy will boss it so much in the future you’ll think it’s a joke. also excited about mitrovich. he was partizans top scorer with 10 goals in 25 matches.

    Good youth signing who will bode well for the future. now if we could only get those who’d help us here and now, that’d be great too….

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  5. @Weng(unn)er what an odd complaint. Any injection of talent into Arsenal at any level is a good thing, even Barca had to go out of there way to sign Messi from River Plate. Would you restrict our academy scouting to just London or just under 16s?

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  6. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • Youth development is like playing lottery, only a few make it irrespective of plans. We’re by all means not doing badly on that front, Gibbs, Wilshere, Sczesscny alls being first-choice, that’s a very good ratio. It’s not a one-way street anyways, one or the other extreme, you have to be flexible in many ways.
      The competition in England and especially London is very, very big. Barcelona e.g. can jsut pick the ebst of the bunch form all of spain, which raises the chances of success.

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    • Despite that, you can’t jsut go out and sign someone, it’s not a matter of time but negotions. Ever considered that maybe Jovetic himself is delaying signing for anyone to see what happens? Maybe Fiorentina is looking for more competition and thus higher bids?

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    • Outlandish statements with little or no supporting facts, and the facts presented are flat-out false as well. I think you’re much better qualified to become a pundit on BBC than commenting out here in the wilderness. The footballing world at present truly needs brilliant footballing minds like yours.

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    • Yeah Wenger must be swanning around Ibiza, looking for water slides.

      Oh wait..


      Relax, he’ll do a good job, like he always does.

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    • “Why wait on signing Jovetic when we have the chance right now?”

      Because it’s just that easy, isn’t it?

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        • How does it take you six hours. Do your deals early. You’ve learnt nothing from the real world to take into the far more important Arsenal career mode.

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        • Bloody Fiorentina don’t reply for 5 hours. Also, have to clear some funds from deadwood to afford the guy. See, I did learn something from the real world!

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    • Youth players are alway hit or miss – there are many hundreds of 15-16 year olds playing football in London alone and I would guess only a handful have really got what it takes to perform at the level it would take to get a regular position in the first team. Especially when that team is Arsenal. And even when a player has come through the ranks and maybe even stood out performance wise it still doesn’t mean they will be good enough – but if they are then they WILL play.

      And I think you need to look up the meaning of the word ‘mediocre’. I cannot think of any of our first choice team that could even remotely be classed that. Many of our fringe players may not be the top top quality we need (which is WHY they are fringe players) but even then it is difficult to justify the term.

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    To me, personally, this is just the beginning.
    Now Come … the expertise in the field viz>> Higuain and the likes of possibly Villa!

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  8. Ok lads, Wenger knows exactly what to do, its up to the players if they want to come. We do need to sign some top notch players, another left back and an absolute machine in the holding midfield role.but at the same time we need to have English players coming through and that is a problem all over the country. Wenger has a philosophy, and its served us well, until he leaves, get behind him. Otherwise go and watch barnet!!!

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      • Bang on!

        Given that no.1 LB is an England international (though he has two senior players ahead of him) and no.2 is a Spanish international (though he has a more attacking player ahead of him) and no.3 is a Brazilian international, who exactly would we be buying? Lahm?

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  9. Glad to see this young lad come over. Will be a top talent in the future no doubt and this time the media weren’t able to add their ‘will he/won’t he/Wenger’s signing potential again’ twist because we all know how good Crowley already is.

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  10. Say what you like about Arsenal’s transfer policy, but I’ll always get excited about youth transfers. Who knows which one of these names might strike an 89th minute winner in the Champions League final for the Arsenal, and write their names into the history books. I’d just be interested to see their style of play and how I develops, which ones have the appetite to carve a career for themselves in the upper echelons of the footballing world. It’s good to see, and hopefully we can get an academy going to rival the one of 6-7 years back. Only with a bit more intelligence and work-rate to go with the raw skill.

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