The name Jaydon Sancho is one being uttered ever increasingly in football circles. The youngster, who binned off Manchester City for a career with Dortmund, is thriving across the water; is he exposing the frailties within our youth system?
Just as one swallow doesn’t make a summer, one footballer succeeding in the Bundesliga doesn’t make our approach to blooding youth inadequate. What if there were more, though? What if, for instance, one of Arsenal’s brightest prospects was doing exactly the same?
Arsenal had ascended to fifth in the Premier League table, behind Spurs and far enough away from the leaders to suggest little has changed post-Wenger. The poster boys of the mid-noughties have become the second best side in North London and simply changing the manager won’t help.
There has been some improvement on the field, looking at the predictions for Premier League from Betting. Betfair suggests there’s scope for belief, and encouragement that the situation is changing. They suggested Arsenal should have easily despatched Wolves, despite drawing 1-1, and remain positive about the club’s future. Perhaps Reiss Nelson might be another reason for that positivity.
Reiss Nelson – By joshjdss – Arsenal U19s Vs Dinamo Zagreb, CC BY 2.0
Nelson is a lifelong friend of Sancho, 18 years old and full of belief that one day, he can play for his club and his country. He’s a Gunner but is currently on loan with Hoffenheim in the German top flight. Like Sancho, he’s caught the eye of scouts and managers alike over there.
They’ve been friends for years, and both played as part of the Southwark under-11 side that won a London Youth Games tournament in 2011. Now they’re flying the flag for English talent with stylish performances in Germany.
Ahead of the recent international break, Nelson had scored six times for Hoffenheim, one more than Sancho had for Dortmund. Those goals have come from just four starts and seven outings from the bench. Sancho has created more, though, as he has eight assists and four goals, although he’s started eight and played 17 in total.
Whilst Sancho made the choice to move permanently to Dortmund, Nelson is still an Arsenal player and his future seems to lay at the Emirates. He’s keen to return as soon as possible, telling a Football London interviewer that he intended to become an Arsenal legend after joining them as a ten-year-old.
There are increasing calls for him to be recalled in January. Danny Welbeck’s horror injury will have a detrimental effect on the squad and there’s only so many times the 18-year-old can send a message back home with a goal before someone takes note.
Mbappe – By Антон Зайцев – https://www.soccer.ru/galery/1058179/photo/737108, CC BY-SA 3.0
He’s the second-hottest teenager in all of Europe’s top five leagues right now, with only Kylian Mbappe, France’s World Cup winner, scoring more times.
The true test for Unai Emery is whether he can room for the youngster in the squad and give him sufficient time and space to develop into the player he’s threatening to be. There has to be a time when the big-money buys and proven players are discarded and the rich vein of talent clearly running through kids in the country is utilised to the full.
Manage that and maybe, just maybe things will start to change for Arsenal.