Pre-season is rapidly approaching and, given that there isn’t a World Cup or European Championship this year, the majority of the Arsenal first-team squad will be able to play a full part in proceedings.
As ever, though, there will be some opportunities for talented youngsters to impress Arsene Wenger and perhaps earn a place in his plans for the upcoming campaign.
Whether Matt Macey, who will turn 23 in September, can still be classified as a youngster is open to debate but the goalkeeper has a good chance of being involved in the Gunners’ pre-season plans.
With uncertainty over the respective futures of Wojciech Szczesny and David Ospina, there is a possibility that Macey could be Arsenal’s third-choice goalkeeper next season behind Petr Cech and Emiliano Martinez, and some good performances during pre-season would help his cause in terms of making that scenario a reality.
Regarding outfield players, Ainsley Maitland-Niles may return to London Colney a little later than some of the other youngsters following his exertions at the U20 World Cup, where he helped England to win the tournament.
However, the versatile prospect should be able to be heavily involved and it certainly wouldn’t be surprising if he was to be officially promoted to the senior squad before the conclusion of pre-season.
Wenger has also mentioned Reiss Nelson as a candidate to step up to the first-team. Undoubtedly Arsenal’s standout youngster at present, the 17-year-old is capable of playing as an attacking midfielder or a winger and possesses excellent close control. It would be especially intriguing to see how Nelson fares against the likes of Bayern Munich and Chelsea in pre-season if given the opportunity.
Other youngsters could also receive chances to catch the eye. With Gabriel injured and Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers, Rob Holding and Krystian Bielik having all been involved in tournaments, at least one young centre-back is likely to be called upon, especially if the 3-4-2-1 formation is persisted with.
Ben Sheaf, who has already been on the bench for the first-team, is the prime candidate in that regard, with the 19-year-old having successfully undergone the transformation from being a defensive-midfielder into a composed centre-back.
Julio Pleguezuelo, who concluded the season strongly on loan at Mallorca, could also be involved.
There may not be many more opportunities for other youngsters, but the likes of Cohen Bramall, Donyell Malen, Eddie Nketiah, Josh Dasilva and Marcus McGuane will all be hoping to make an impact in training and subsequently be rewarded with a first-team call-up.