According to a report from The Express, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has promoted Tim Akinola and James Olayinka to first-team training ahead of our game against Norwich City this weekend.
A bunch of Arsenal’s senior players are still away on international duty. Most of them are set to return to London Colney today, but it’s unlikely that they will all feature in full training until tomorrow.
That has opened the door for some of our youngsters to rub shoulders with the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Thomas Partey at London Colney. Olayinka and Akinola were given that opportunity yesterday.
Akinola and Olayinka train with the Arsenal first-team
Mohamed Elneny’s future is still up in the air while Thomas Partey has only just returned from injury. Albert Sambi Lokonga, Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard are away on international duty, while we still don’t know where Ainsley Maitland-Niles will play.
That has left Arsenal short of options in the middle of the park and Arteta had to bring a few bodies in from our youth setup. Akinola and Olayinka were the chosen ones, and they would’ve loved every second of it.
Akinola, a defensive midfielder by trade, joined us on a free transfer from Huddersfield Town last year. He has played 26 times for our under-23’s so far, and although he hasn’t yet made the same kind of noise as someone like Miguel Azeez, he is one we should keep an eye on.
Olayinka, on the other hand, has been at Arsenal since he was a kid. He spent two spells away on loan at Northampton Town and Southend United, the latter being a fairly successful one where he scored three goals in 21 appearances while playing in six different positions.
Everyone at Arsenal has had high hopes for Olayinka for a while now. He was introduced as the next big thing coming out of Hale End a few years ago, with the youngster even claiming that he has based his style of play to that of Manchester City legend Yaya Toure.
He told Arsenal media: “I’m a central midfielder and my biggest qualities are running forward, dribbling and goalscoring. If I could base my game on any player, it would be Yaya Toure because he used to dominate the game a few years ago and he used to score a lot of goals.”
Olayinka is no Yaya Toure just yet, but he’s still only 20. He has a lot of time to improve and training with the first team alongside someone like Partey will only make him a better midfielder.