featured

Who Will Be Arsenal’s Next Breakthrough Player?

 • by Simon Collings
Share:facebooktwitteremail
news now

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has shown a more relaxed attitude in the transfer market this summer, happy to break his record signing as much as possible if it means getting his top targets.

But he is never happier than when he spots a talented youngster and brings him through to the first team. Successes to date include players such as Ashley Cole, Cesc Fàbregas, Jack Wilshere and Héctor Bellerín.

But who is in the next generation of Wenger Boys who can make the breakthrough? Here, we take a closer look at the players Arsenal’s French coach hopes will make the transition to first-team football this season.

COHEN BRAMALL

Born: April 2, 1996

Position: Left-back/wing-back

Country: England

Previous club: Hednesford Town

Fee: £34,000

A surprise winter window non-League signing in January, Bramall could be a regular in the first-team squad this season, especially if Kieran Gibbs is moved on as expected.

He is a very fast left-back – he clocked 10.2s over 100m – who will also fit in well as a wing-back now. He was given more game time than many on the club’s pre-season tour of Australia and China, where he did not look out of place.

AINSLEY MAITLAND-NILES

Born: August 29. 1997

Position: Defence/midfield/wing-back

Country: England

Previous club: Arsenal youth since 2014

Fee: N/A

Well integrated into the Arsenal way, having been at the club since he was aged nine, this versatile World Cup winner from England’s Under-20s could emerge as a key player in a right wing-back role.

Billed originally as a midfielder, where he has played for the first team already, Wenger believes the youngster he sent on loan to Ipswich Town last season could now best be used for his skills at the back, as well as attacking from a defensive position.

REISS NELSON

Born: December 10, 1999

Position: Right wing/attacking midfield

Country: England

Previous club: Arsenal youth since 2015

Fee: N/A

Could this season be the one when the outrageously talented attacking midfielder makes a breakthrough? The south Londoner has been tipped for the top from early in his career and has usually played in teams above his age group.

He is quick, highly skilled and can play anywhere in a forward role. An England Under-17 international, he has been with Arsenal since he was nine and signed his first professional contract last December.

JOE WILLOCK

Born: August 20, 1999

Position: Midfield

Country: England

Previous club: Arsenal youth since 2015

Fee: N/A

Has lived in the footballing shadow of older brothers Chris and Matthew until this summer. With Matt at Manchester United and Chris having left Arsenal for Benfica, it is a chance to shine for this immensely skilful midfielder. In classic Wenger style, he can play through the middle or as a winger on either flank.

An England Youth International, his inclusion in the manager’s first team pre-season plans show he is now ready to be fully integrated as a member of the first-team squad. He looks bigger and stronger than ever before and was arguably the star performer of the club’s pre-season tour.

EMI MARTINEZ

Born: September 2, 1992

Position: Goalkeeper

Country: Argentina

Previous club: Independiente

Fee: £1.2million

Regarded at the club as the best player to come through the Arsenal system since Jack Wilshere (when Wilshere was still thought of as the future of English football), Wenger believes this popular South American is the man to eventually replace Petr Čech as his long-term No.1.

He has considerable Championship first-team experience from loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham United and Wolves and was Arsenal’s first choice in the EFL Cup last season. He also started in two Premier League games and is signed to a long-term deal with good reason.

KRYSTIAN BIELIK

Born: January 4, 1998

Position: Centre-back

Country: Poland

Previous club: Legia Warsaw

Fee: £2million

Wenger calls the young Pole the most technically gifted centre-back he has ever seen, having converted him from midfield after he joined in early 2015.

A successful loan spell at Birmingham City last season showed he has developed the physical strength to compete at senior level and he could get more opportunities now Arsenal favour playing with three men at the back.

FOLLOW FOOTBALL WHISPERS ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER

 

related
content