How did the Arsenal Academy do under Jonker?

Opinion

Andries Jonker has left his position of Arsenal’s Head of Academy and joined German Bundesliga club Wolfsburg as their new head coach.

Jonker had joined Arsenal from Wolfsburg in 2014, where he was Wolfsburg assistant coach.

Freddie Ljungberg has also left his position coaching the Under 15s as well as helping Jonker with the Under 18s. Ljungberg joins Jonker as assistant coach.

But how did Andries Jonker fair in his three years at the club as Head of the Academy? Well it’s been up and down in terms of results and achievements for the Dutch man.

First off, the academy is still a Category One status academy, which means the club can recruit players from all over the nation. That is vitally important to allow the club to look for the talent across the country.

Some promising developments have been the progress of Alex Iwobi and Ainsley Maitland-Niles, with Iwobi bursting onto the scene and now a regular first team player as well as a Nigerian international. Jonker played both players in different positions in the academy, assisting both players in their development.

He was also involved in the improvement works at the Hale End academy, Arsenal’s base for the Under 16s. Hale End had redevelopment in the indoor facilities as well as four state of the art pitches, ensuring the youngsters in the academy are well catered for.

The Dutchman also oversaw the moves for exciting youth players, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Donyell Malen and Vlad Dragomir.

But, the real question is, is there anyone coming through the ranks to follow Iwobi into the first team, that Jonker has had an impact on?

Ben Sheaf is a defender / midfielder who is very good on the ball, Chris Willock is a striker with huge potential and great ability, midfielder Dan Crowley currently on loan and Krystian Bielek, also on loan, who has been converted from midfield to centre back. Whether these players will make the breakthrough or not, only time will tell.

However on the pitch results have not been great. The team struggling to make any sort of impact in the UEFA Youth League.

There has also been a lack of defensive players coming through the academy especially at under 18 level.

Overall, Andries Jonker has probably had a positive impact on the academy, but only just. But you have to ask, for the money that the club are ploughing into the academy, should we not be seeing more youth players, not only breaking into the first team but staying there?

Personally I would like to see more youth players coming through, especially with the fact the club has the pick of the talent.

Whoever is employed into the role of Arsenal’s Head of Academy has a challenge to start producing talent that are good enough to make the first team.

Maybe I am expecting too much, but surely this is the reason for having the Academy?

It’s going to be a massive task for someone.