Arsenal

Arsenal: Nigel Winterburn pleased with youthful Gunners policy

Arsenal: Nigel Winterburn pleased with youthful Gunners policy

‘He can break into the first team’ – Arsenal legend predicts big seasons for Gunners youngsters

Arsenal’s recent activity in the transfer market has excited former Arsenal full-back Nigel Winterburn – who believes the current rebuild of the Gunners squad is heading in the right direction.

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Unai Emery has welcomed two new faces in the past week, with the addition of midfielder Dani Ceballos – on loan from Real Madrid – being swiftly followed by French teenager William Saliba, who will go back out on loan to Saint-Etienne.

And Arsenal are set to smash their transfer record, with reports of Nicolas Pepe joining from Lille subject to a medical after the two clubs reportedly agreed a fee of around £72m.

Winterburn believes the influx of young talent will take the club forward in the long run – as a handful of youngsters from Arsenal’s youth teams look set for first-team berths.

Speaking to Love Sport Radio, he said: “I’m excited about what Arsenal have been trying to do, particularly in the last few days. I think what Arsenal needed to do is move this squad around a little bit.

“I’ve been saying that for the last couple of seasons, and I like that Arsenal are introducing a couple of the younger players into the squad, and the players they’re bringing in are a bit younger as well.

Arsenal have recently installed the likes of Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson to the first team having featured the youngsters heavily in pre-season, and Winterburn has spoken highly of the Gunners duo.

He continued: “I like Willock for sure, midfield player, I think he’s very similar to [Aaron] Ramsey in that he makes a lot of forward runs, Reiss Nelson has been talked about for the last year and a half. I think he can break into the first team and it could be a huge season for him.”

The Gunners’ signings so far do suggest that Emery has been putting an emphasis on youth and building for the future, with Pepe set to become the oldest of Arsenal’s new recruits at 24 – while other youngsters have impressed in pre-season – such as 20-year-old Eddie Nketiah, with three goals to his name.

And in building for the future with centre-back Saliba to join the club fully next year, the amount of forward planning involved in Emery’s transfer strategy suggests a long-term gameplan is firmly up and running.

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