Arsenal’s next batch of scholars is more or less confirmed, and, other than the suggestion that Chris Willock seems set to spurn the advances of Manchester United and continue his development in North London, the most intriguing sub-plot to emerge from this year’s intake is the presence of two promising Greek youngsters.
Mourgos Savvas and Elias Hatzitheodoridis emerged through Arsenal’s Elite Academy in Greece, which was established in 2011. The initial aim upon the creation of the Academy was simply to provide youngsters in the country with a platform on which to express their considerable talent. It is a welcome surprise that the initiative has already produced two players deemed good enough to earn a scholarship at Arsenal.
Savvas, a central-midfielder with an impressive passing range, impressed during the recent Ferroli Cup whilst on trial at Arsenal, whilst Hatzitheodoridis is considered one of his country’s best young left-backs. Both players will undoubtedly take some time to acclimatise to life in North London, but the decision to hand them full-time contracts reflects well on the Elite Academy.
The majority of the rest of the intake, with the exception of Swedish centre-back Kristopher Da Graca, who will complete his move from Hisingbacka later this month, is comprised of players who came through Arsenal’s Hale End system.
Willock, who can play in most central and wide midfield positions, is the stand-out talent, but the likes of Kaylen Hinds and Stephy Mavdidi also warrant mentions having impressed at U18 level whilst they were still schoolboys.
George Dobson, meanwhile, is a defensive midfielder who can also play at centre-back if required. The 16 year old possesses commendable leadership qualities, whilst winger Tyrell Robinson has also caught the eye for the U18s. Harry Donovan is another midfielder who is efficient at breaking up play and distributing the ball to others.
Defenders Jonatas Centeno, Marc Bola, Aaron Eyoma and Chiori Johnson complete the intake, with Arsenal, under the new management duo of Frans de Kat and Kwame Ampadu, hoping for a considerably more impressive return at U18 level next season than in the campaign just finished.