Here are five graduates of Arsenal’s youth academy that will give Gunners fans around the world plenty to look forward to in the coming years.
Name: Martin Angha *Star prospect*
Squad number: 57
Angha featured 21 times for the youth team in his debut season before being promoted to the reserves for the last six games of the 2010/2011 campaign. This year, the 6’4 centre-back has been a regular for the reserves, and has come very close to breaking into the first-team.
Angha was being considered for Arsenal’s Champions League squad back in December for their game against Olympiakos, however the youngster failed to meet UEFA’s qualifying criteria as he had not lived in England for long enough at that point.
The 18 year-old, who captained his country at Under-16 level, has made great improvements over the last two seasons and goes down as my pick of the bunch.
Name: Thomas Eisfeld
Eisfeld joined Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund in January, after his six goals and six assists in 12 games caught the eye of Arsene Wenger.
The versatile German has captained his country at Under-15 level, and Wenger was full of praise following his capture in the winter transfer window.
He said: “Thomas is a player we have liked for some time. We’ve watched him closely this season, where he has excelled for Dortmund’s youth team.
“He is young but has proven to us that he can play, that he has the attitude and technical ability to be a valuable addition to our squad. We’re very pleased to welcome him to the Club and look forward to his contribution in the coming seasons.”
Name: Benik Afobe
Squad number: 33
Afobe has been touted as the next big thing for quite a while now and it’s only a matter of time before the England Under-19 striker gets his chance to shine in Arsenal’s first team.
The 6ft forward, who spent a successful season on loan at Huddersfield Town during the 2010/2011 campaign, was part of the England Under-17 team that won the European Championships in 2011, and has been a prolific scorer at several national levels.
Afobe is currently on loan at Reading but has only managed two Championship appearances since joining Brian Mcdermott’s promotion hopefuls.
Name: Damian Martinez
Squad number: 59
Martinez joined Arsenal from Argentine giants Independiente at the beginning of the 2010/2011 campaign and has looked the part since arriving in London.
The 19 year-old has played in both the youth and reserve teams where his form impressed Argentina national team manager Alejandro Sabella enough to earn him a call up to the senior team last year.
Martinez was an unused substitute however it shows just how highly-rated this young man is.
Name: Jon Toral
Toral joined Arsenal from Barcelona along with Hector Bellerin last summer and has impressed since making the move to England. The left-footed attacking midfielder has been a regular scorer in the youth team this season and looks an extremely exciting talent. The next Cesc Fabregas? Probably not. But the young Spaniard looks like he will give it a go.