All guns blazing: New Arsenal youth boss had British core at his disposal

Dan Crowley, England U17

Dan Crowley, England U17 - Credit: EMPICS Sport

With Andries Jonker announced as Arsenal’s new head of youth, AFC blogger Jack Singer highlights four British talents he should look at.

Daniel Crowley is the first name that comes to mind when discussing Arsenal and England’s future prodigies. The 16-year-old attacking midfielder is a virtuoso footballer; a work of art on the ball.

In his recent performance in the Under-18 FA Youth Cup against Peterborough, Crowley not only managed to pick up four assists, but also scored twice. It was a perfect performance and even the Posh fans were stunned into applauding the magnificence they’d just witnessed.

We’ll be seeing Daniel a lot more with the Under-21s, as he fights for a starting spot with Thomas Eisfeld and Gedion Zelalem. I haven’t been this excited about a player within our youth system since the days of Cesc Fabregas and Jack Wilshere.

In defence, we have an upcoming centre-back that everyone should be excited about in Stefan O’Connor. The 17-year-old, standing at 6ft 1in, is disciplined, brave, spectacular in the air and gets stuck in.

Already impressing at Under-21 level this season, it is likely O’Connor will get a string of games under Steve Gatting in the second half of the season.

Replacing Bacary Sagna will be one of Arsene Wenger’s biggest challenges in a couple of seasons’ time, but the club are already looking within for a future replacement. Hector Bellerin looks the most likely candidate, but while the Spaniard is on loan at Watford, Tafari Moore has stepped up and had a good run of games in the Under-21 side.

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Moore has a rare and uncanny resemblance to Sagna; he’s comfortable in attack and able to deliver menacing crosses into the final third, but exceptional when asked to drop back and defend. To be this balanced at the formative age of 16 is a very promising sign indeed.

Moving back onto our attack, Ainsley Maitland-Niles is another 16-year-old forming part of our youthful British core. The ‘inverted winger’ has proved a nightmare for defenders recently, full of pace and with that modern ability to cut inside from the right and accurately place his left-footed shots.

Alex Iwobi is ahead of him in the pecking order for now, but with Ryo Miyaichi likely to move on in this window, it may not be long before Maitland-Niles gets a chance with the Under-21s.

Whatever their long-term futures might hold, these four talents are surely guaranteed a professional contract when they turn 17 next season.

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