Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta recently invited 19-year-old goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo to first-team training.
The teenager is one of our brightest prospects and many around the club feel he is destined for big things. Okonkwo has been a part of Arsenal since he was just eight years old.
He was in our under-18’s squad when he was 16 and kept a clean sheet on his debut at 17. Okonkwo’s progression was rapid and many felt that a senior call-up was not too far away. Sadly, a health issue sidelined him for a year.
The youngster is now back fit and ready, and he has caught Arteta’s eye. He has trained with the first-team this week ahead of our FA Cup clash against Newcastle this weekend, but it is unlikely that he will play any part.
However, the 6ft 5in giant – who claimed that he had grown to 99.6% of his potential height when he was just 14 (Arsenal.com) – could save Arsenal millions in the transfer window.
Football London recently claimed that Arsenal are already looking to sign a new goalkeeper. Alex Runarsson has clearly not impressed since his arrival and last season showed us just how important it is to have a solid backup to Bernd Leno.
Okonkwo could replace Runarsson in the first-team squad
Leno and Runarsson are Arsenal’s first two picks for a spot in goal, with Matt Macey usually next in the pecking order. However, the 6ft 7in Englishman has now left the club permanently, which pushes Okonkwo up a spot.
Karl Hein is making good strides in the academy while Dejan Iliev, who is currently on loan at Shrewsbury, will also look to take Macey’s spot.
However, Okonkwo has arguably made a bigger impression than anyone else at the moment, and it won’t be a surprise to see him make the jump to the first-team soon – maybe even above Runarsson whose place is under serious threat now.