From the likes of Andy Cole to Serge Gnabry, Arsenal’s iconic youth academy has nurtured many world-class talents over the years. The Gunners’ values go beyond footballing excellence, they help the players become the best versions of themselves. The renowned Hale End academy has saved Arsenal millions in transfer fees over the years and we believe that trend will live on.
Despite Arsenal’s recent woes, many top young talents have chosen to call Arsenal home and today we will check who they are.
Without further ado, let’s check out the five hottest youth prospects at Arsenal right now.
#1. Omar Rekik
Despite being only 19 years old, Omar Rekik is being touted to become one of Arsenal’s future stars. The young centre-back was signed from Hertha’s B team in January 2021 and already has a license to train with the first team.
Academy coach and former Arsenal star Per Mertesacker is particularly fond of Rekik and considers him to be a special talent.
Rekik is an excellent reader of the ball and knows how to command the area. He is also good in the air and is always a threat from set-pieces. His inclusion has tangibly improved Arsenal U-23’s defensive performances and the Tunisian is now one of the first names on the team sheet.
Rekik is yet to play for the senior side, but we are hoping to see him in action sooner rather than later.
#2. Folarin Balogun
Arsenal are in desperate need of capable young forwards, and Folarin Balogun seems to be the perfect man for the job. Balogun is a quick, versatile centre-forward who is tipped to be the next big thing at Arsenal.
The 20-year-old is mature for his age and has an acute sense of space and time.
Balogun joined Arsenal at the tender age of eight. Developed by Arsenal’s brilliant youth academy, Balogun knows the value of the crest better than most, and he honors it every time he plays.
Thanks to his blistering run of form in Premier League 2, Balogun got the opportunity to feature in the Europa League last season. In just 63 minutes of action across five continental games, the England U-21 international scored twice and provided an assist.
Balogun has not yet managed to score for the senior team this season but has netted nine goals in seven Premier League 2 outings.
#3 Gabriel Martinelli
Former Arsenal manager Unai Emery did not enjoy the best of spells in London, but he did promote some fine young players. The Spaniard was particularly proud of the progress Gabriel Martinelli was making.
Martinelli joined Arsenal in 2019, signing from Brazilian outfit Ituano Futebol Clube. Emery was thoroughly impressed with the shift the youngster was putting in and gave him chances in all four competitions Arsenal were playing in.
Martinelli shone brightly in all four, registering 10 goals and four assists across all competitions.
The 20-year-old has faded a little over the last two seasons, but he still has plenty of time to get back on track.
#4. Emile Smith Rowe
A year back, Arsenal midfielder Emile Smith Rowewas not at the top of anyone’s list of youth prospects. However, over the last few months, Smith Rowe has proved his mettle and now proudly wears the Arsenal number 10 shirt.
Smith Rowe is a capable, young midfielder who loves to push forward and break through the opposition lines. He has a fantastic right foot and is an expert at having a go at goal. Since making his competitive debut in December 2018, his career graph has only moved in one direction – upwards.
Even at this young age, Smith Rowe has had to deal with his fair share of injuries. But instead of letting them discourage him, the 21-year-old has made it a point to bounce back stronger than ever.
Smith Rowe has featured in 12 games for Arsenal this season, recording four goals and two assists across all competitions.
#5. Bukayo Saka
Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka is the most promising young player at the club and by a country mile. The 20-year-old enrolled in the academy at the tender age of seven and has not looked back since.
Coming up through the club’s youth system, the current Arsenal number 7 featured for the U-18 and U-23 sides before playing for the senior team. He was only 17 when Arsenal handed him his competitive debut in their Europa League clash with Vorskla Poltava.
A month later, in December 2018, Saka started his first match in the Europa League, against Qarabag.
Needless to say, the left midfielder has only grown in confidence since and has emerged as one of Arsenal’s best players. The Englishman registered seven goals and ten assists for the Gunners last season, which made him Arsenal’s Player of the Year.
He has started strongly this season as well and could very well eclipse his last season’s tally by the end of the campaign.