Exciting youth prospect Miguel Azeez looks set to be loaned out.
Arsenal need to learn from their chequered past and cultivate the proper environment for the starlet to succeed.
Supporters around the globe found themselves filled with a mixture of pride and disgust as they watched Serge Gnabry tear the Champions League apart, as Bayern Munich marched to a historic triumph in Europe’s most prestigious club competition. The German winger’s mercurial rise to the status of world-class is perhaps one of the most regrettable developments in recent years for the Arsenal fanbase.
It is important to remember that Gnabry turned down a new deal at the Emirates to make a move to German side Weder Bremen. There was, of course, some questionable dealings with Bayern Munich behind the scenes as the Bavarian giants angled themselves perfectly to snag the red hot prospect right from under Arsenal’s nose. However, while the player forced the move and Bayern Munich employed rather shady tactics to claim his signature, Arsenal are also guilty of mishandling his development.
Following his eye-catching start to life in north London, Gnabry was sidelined with a knee injury that ironically occurred in a game against his current club Bayern Munich. The injury threw his entire Arsenal career into chaos and culminated in the now-infamous loan to Tony Pulis’ West Brom.
Following that dumpster fire of a loan where Gnabry was deemed not at the level required, he was recalled from the loan in January. Gnabry was unable to get minutes over players such as Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin, and Joel Campbell as Arsenal fought to challenge for the Premier League title. Of course, in retrospect anyone can see that Gnarby’s potential was far greater than any of these other players, but trapped in the moment, Arsene Wenger decided to trust arguably more established players.
So while Wenger wanted to keep Gnabry and give him a new contract, it’s reasonable to understand why he feared for his career and pushed for a move to capture more first-team football. In the end, Gnabry’s decision has been vindicated and Arsenal will rue the handling of his departure.
Now, rumors have been currently circulating about exciting youth prospect Miguel Azeez. It is believed that the player will be heading out on loan to League One side Charlton in the coming weeks. The classy midfielder has been earmarked by Academy Director Per Mertesacker as a player destined for the first team.
Speaking to Spanish football expert Guillem Balague, Azeez mentioned Mertesacker’s intention on clearing a pathway to the first team for him in central midfield:
“At the moment, I’m mainly playing as a CDM, so like a number six or an eight. I’ve always said that I can do all three, so I’m a midfielder. Per Mertesacker, he said he’s seen a specific trait I have, which is obviously that I’ve got a good range of passing as well as that I can run a lot. He said that there could be an opportunity in the first team in that position,”
This will be a breath of fresh air for Arsenal fans. Seeing a concerted and intentional approach to youth development is something that the club has been lacking for quite some time. Azeez is set to go out on loan at a crucial time in his development, and with the club hierarchy clearly keeping him in mind for the future, there should, in theory, be a much smoother progression to first-team minutes for the youngster. This means he will hopefully not be starved for opportunities in the same way that Gnabry was.
Of course, Gnabry is not the only hot prospect to pass through the Emirates and move on to be an influential player elsewhere. Ismael Benaccer, Jeff Rene-Adelaide, and Donyell Malen have all gone on to become effective players across Europe. We can even see in the current first-team a host of players who find themselves in limbo like Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Emiliano Martinez.
Not every prospect will go on to be a top player like Gnabry, but a more organized and systematic approach to developing young players will greatly benefit Arsenal in the future and mitigate the loss of top talents. Hopefully, Miguel Azeez’s situation will be the start of a new chapter for the football club in terms of developing and retaining potentially world-class players.