As Arsenal fans, for all our talented youth, something has been missing.
This will not apply to many of you reading, but the sentiment remains the same. Seeing players develop through your own club and then go on to play senior international football is a truly special feeling. Arsenal have lacked that for too long.
Chants of ‘one of our own’ are commonplace across football. There is a deep sense of pride felt from watching a player work his way up through the club ranks then pull on the national shirt. That sentimental attachment is a heartwarming emotion you can’t shirk. But while we’ve seen youngsters galore make into the senior Arsenal squad, the jump up into playing for the Three Lions hasn’t been as forthcoming.
The only ones of late to really play meaningful minutes for England have been Theo Walcott and, to some extent, Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck. Yet even in those instances they were in and out of the team, with the most recent World Cup showcasing just one Arsenal player for England.
With the current crop that will change.
Not quite at senior level just yet, Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson and most recently Bukayo Saka have now all played for the England Under-21 side. Nketiah is no stranger to this level, nor is Nelson, but now Saka has made the jump up, all boding well for the future of Arsenal.
Nketiah grabbed his second consecutive hat-trick for the Under-21 side in the recent demolition of Kosovo, while Nelson got on the scoresheet and Saka was lively throughout.
Nelson also poses a genuine future senior contender, but it’s hard to overlook the heightened progress of the aforementioned duo. Even at Under-21 level it is doing wonders for Arsenal, as international outings, regardless of age classification, are added experience and know-how that come as a result of a different style of football and alternative coaching methods.
While the England setup is brimming with exciting young talent at present, the natural progression of Saka, Nketiah and potentially Nelson is a matter of when, not if. With more minutes outside of club football improving their performances in the Premier League, we’re sure to see fruitful careers for them all.
Having been starved of Arsenal players featuring for England (while our squad is packed full of international talent from all over the world) that icing on the cake will just add to the justified hype.
Remember Walcott scoring that hat-trick against Croatia and becoming the youngest player to do so in the process? That felt bloody fantastic. And it was 12 years ago.
Seeing Nketiah scoring goals and Saka set them up for the England senior side the stuff of dreams. Dreams that will, however, be realised soon enough.