Who will make the big time?
It’s a fun game to play but one where speculation can be little more than a guess at this stage given who is already in our current first team squad, which out on loan players will return and which current under 21 players are going to claim first team berths. The above listed groups are those which our current batch of NextGen kids must aspire to outdo in the footballing stakes. No easy task.
Also much depends on what you mean by 'come through'. These young men all want to be professional footballers but if they have any sense of realism they’ll know that the odds of actually doing that as an Arsenal first team squad player are still very much stacked against them. So if we mean ‘come through’ to Arsenal's first team as a regular first team player then the odds against any youth player achieving that are considerable. Quite possibly with odds that are maybe more than a 1 in 20 chance for even our best aspiring 'young professionals'.
When you think about it just to get an occasional game in Arsenal's first team as a squad player means you have to be International standard at the very least, but players such as Jack are obviously very much more than that. But then Jack was a notable exception to the run of the mill youth player. Did we see any such players play against CSKA? Or where they all flattering to deceive?
It is my perception that Arsenal's youth set up has always been about an attempt at producing well rounded kids who can cope with the outside world and make a career at football if they are very lucky. In that respect the Club do an incredibly good job given that there are dozens and dozens of professional players out there who've come through Arsenal's youth system. Very many ex-Arsenal kids make a very decent living from the game despite being considered crap in the eyes of some Arsenal fans because they failed to make our first team. Such kids are not crap; they simply do not have that extra something that it takes to be an International /Premiership player at a very top club. Getting players through to our first team squad is just one goal of the youth setup, but it’s not quite the be all and end all of our youth system. What's happened in recent years appears to be the overall raising of technical standards which helps players such as the Jacks of this world to thrive within that environment and become classier players much quicker.
Being a technical brilliant player used to be enough, being a technically brilliant player now is only part of making it big time. These days pretty well every youth player we have is technically first class. The difference between them and those who make the first team are a number of factors which I'd suggest includes dedication, ambition, dedication, hard work, dedication, sensible life style, dedication, concentration, family support, good friends, decent attitude to life, physicality, speed of thought, strength, natural ability, personality, conditioning, stamina, luck with injuries, more luck with who bars your progress to first team football and dedication. Just being a fast or technically gifted player is no longer enough and hasn't been for some time now - just ask tossers such as Pennant, Bothroyd, Bentley et al.
Our current under 19’s are certainly all in with a real crack at first team football. They all probably feel they've already made the big time. They would however all be wrong because all they've done up to now is put themselves on the starting grid and how they react to the challenge of the next 3/4 years will determine if they sink, swim or survive in the big time.
So who do you think has what it takes: Yennaris, Gnarby, Hajrovic, Angha? Well let’s face it your guess is as good as mine because I only know how good I rate them as exciting technical players but I’ve no idea about all the other stuff which will determine how far they go in the beautiful game, either with Arsenal or any other Club.