Another Arsenal youngster leaves for foreign climate

So another talented youngster is set to leave Arsenal.

Stephy Mavididi joins Marcus McGuane (Barcelona), Chris Willock (Benfica), Donyell Malen (PSV), Kaylen Hinds (VfL Wolfsburg), Daniel Crowley (Willem II) and Vlad Dragomir (Perugia) to have left the club in the last 12 months for a new challenge abroad.

On the face of it, the mass exodus of Arsenal youngsters would be a concern, but when you dig deep, you realise things are not as bad as they seem.

Whilst some of the players might have gone to some of Europe’s stellar names – Barcelona and Juventus in the cases of McGuane and Mavididi – none of yet to really make any sort of break through to prove Arsenal were wrong in letting them leave.

In Marcus McGuane’s case, there was plenty of fake new surrounding a “first team debut” in a game that was not competitive.

Making the Arsenal first team squad is not an easy task, and nor should it be.

Some will say these players should have been “given their chance at Arsenal” but none of them have exactly yet been given a chance at their new club either.

In the case of Stephy Mavididi, should he have been “given a chance” at Arsenal? Should he have got game time ahead of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Alexandre Lacazette? Clearly not.

Expecting him to get minutes ahead of these two is just silly.

“but he could have played in the League Cup” you cry. Yes, he could have, but it was Eddie Nketiah who got those minutes playing 10 games last season across the League Cup, Europa League and Premier League.

Meanwhile Mavididi spent the first half of the season on loan at Preston (11 games; 0 goals) and the second half of the season at Charlton (15 games; 2 goals). He got chances at these clubs and did not really take them.

So he is behind Eddie Nketiah in the pecking order at Arsenal. I think we can all agree with that.

Moving into this season, you can only really give one of them the minutes in the Europa League and League Cup – especially if you are trying to give game time to both Aubameyang and Lacazette.

Nketiah is a year younger than Mavididi and a better player.

That leaves Arsenal with 3 choices when it comes to Mavididi:

  1. Keep him at the club, playing youth team games – Although this would then reduce playing time for some of the talented 17 and 18 year olds, and Nketiah will still be stepping down to the U23s this season, starting ahead of Mavididi
  2. Loan him out – Do we really want to be like Chelsea, giving 18 year old lads 5 year deals and then loaning them across Europe for the duration of their contract. The average age of Chelsea’s 32 strong long contingent is 22. They have a 24 year old on loan who will never play for them
  3. Sell him – Give him the chance to make a permanent move somewhere, to start afresh, whether it be at home or abroad

I really do not agree with Chelsea’s policy of hoarding lots of talented young players and loaning them across Europe.

Lewis Baker is now 23-years old and onto his 5th loan deal. Kenneth Omeruo is 24 years-old and on his 6th loan deal. 22-year old Joao Rodríguez is in his 9th loan deal since Chelsea signed him 5 years ago.

The way Chelsea treat these players is unfair. If a player is not good enough, let him free, release him, sell him. that is what Arsenal have done.

Arsenal let Kaylen Hinds leave because they had Mavididi and Nketiah coming through. Chris Willock got overtaken by his younger brother Joe.

Marcus McGaune left after seeing his chances of breaking through reduce due to the development of a player 6 months older than him – last year Ainsley Maitland-Niles played 28 games.

You can not develop them all, give them all the game time that they demand. So what you need to do is focus on the better ones. Those that are ahead of the rest. Those most likely to make it.

Players like Maitland-Niles, Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson got some game time last season.

To get a chance at Arsenal, firstly you have to be better than those 3, or better than Kostadinos Mavropanos (still just 20) or better than Matteo Guendouzi (just 19). you actually need to be good enough to get your chance. We are no Make a Wish Foundation; giving players minutes just for the sake of it.

Emile Smith Rowe is just 18-years old. He massively impressed during pre-season and is clearly the top young talent at the club in terms of attacking midfielders. This season, if there is a chance to play a young number 10 in the League Cup, should we give that chance to Smith Rowe, or someone older than him who is not as good?

Focus the development on those players who are best, or show the most potential.

And if that means the likes of Mavididi or McGuane leave the club before “getting a chance” then so-be-it. If there are better players ahead of you, you have no right to “get a chance”.

I prefer quality over quantity. It would be better to concentrate on developing the best 2 or 3 youngsters at the club, than continuing to develop a dozen players who ultimately will not be good enough.

This season I want to see Maitland-Niles, Willock, Nelson, Mavropanos, Guendouzi, Nketiah and Smith Rowe get the game time.

This would be an exciting young XI to play in the League Cup, and if you are older than those below, and not ahead in terms of develop, it is probably time to move on.

OseiTutu Mavropanos Holding Bola
AMN Guendouzi
Nelson Willock SmithRowe

I wish every Arsenal player who has left the club a lot of luck, especially those who have made a decision to go abroad. It is a brave decision that more young English players should do.

More youngsters need to look at Willock, Hinds, McGuane and Jadon Sancho (ex-Manchester City) and shun the British academies at 18. Rather than sign a new deal with your English club, to spend 4 years being loaned around the hell holes of the country, pack your bags and go abroad.

It will make them better players in the long run and, worse case scenario, if it does not work out, they have a fantastic experience behind them.

And eventually, if enough do it, the English national team will improve.

England players lack culture. Lack different footballing skills learned having played in different countries.

Not just at youth level, but at senior level English players do not move abroad. They would rather play for Stoke earning £60,000 a week, then go and join Celta Vigo, Bordeaux or Genoa.

If more English players, especially youngster, move abroad, the English team will improve. They would have had a different education, learnt new skills, and be a more rounded footballer.

Whilst none of Willock, Hinds, McGuane or Sancho can yet be labelled as a roaring success, all 4 should be congratulated for being brave and making that move.

As for Mavididi, going to Juventus is a huge move for him. He is a long way from the Arsenal first team, so a move to Italy will be much better than staying at Arsenal, and spending another season on loan somewhere in the home-counties.

For youth players, it is so hard to go from prospect to first teamer. More fail than make it. Mavididi has found himself behind a younger talent in Nketiah and has decided to move on.



JW Diaries: The New Dawn Begins

Whilst watching the U15’s Win 1-0 in a close game at Hale End last Tuesday, the first major decision of the season was made; U23s in Manchester (City) or the U18s at London Colney on Saturday, we went with the latter!

When you get the First Team, U23’s, U18’s and U16’s playing over 2 days, the lower year teams become thin due to the large squads needed, obviously for the first team, but also for the U23’s, especially as they travelled to Manchester on the Friday afternoon for their match against City.

My first outing to London Colney this season didn’t disappoint. The U18’s had a 14 year old in goal, the sub goalie got injured in the warm up therefore, a trialist keeper as well as others playing for the U16 match were also on the U18 bench!

For the record, the U18’s were 2-0 up at half time with Aston Villa pulling 2 back, before a couple near the end, saw us get a just-about deserved 4-2 win.

Sunday it was all change.

With my usual pub closing down, it meant a change of pre-match venue! Once the teams flashed up on one of the screens, I wasn’t overly surprised with the line up, but what was worried that it appeared to be a 4-3-3 formation which basically gives up midfield! Whilst I can see this working against lower opposition, it was never going to work against the Premier League Champions who without doubt have the strongest and best squad in the league, probably Europe!

Unusually, I left the pub an hour before kick-off, got a teamsheet from a press friend and was in my seat watching the warm ups for the first time ever at the Emirates Stadium.

Having watched all 5 first team friendlies live, it didn’t prepare me for what was unfolding in front of my eyes. I was shocked to see us playing the ball out from the back, I’d like to think we have been doing this in training, if we did, it certainly didn’t show on the pitch.

As the game progressed, Manchester City played their usual game, taking control with slick movement and precise passing, which was something we lacked.

Arsenal looked a far better side in the 2nd half once the substitutions were made, we were unlucky not to score. At the end of the day, it was Unai  Emery’s first match in charge against a world class team. Manchester City will dominate almost every game they play in this season.

Emery’s Premier League baptism continues with a tough away game against Chelsea awaits, hopefully then, things can only get better……..


Are Everton getting too excited over Usmanov links?

Fans of Everton are getting excited. Some fans of Arsenal are getting angry. The reason? Alisher Usmanov.

Evertonians have already spent his billions, turning the Scousers into champions; Gooners are sitting there saying “that could have been us”.

The truth is this is all very presumptuous. Usmanov has not invested in Everton, has not started spending billions, so it is a lot of fuss about nothing.

What Usmanov has said is interesting, however.

“Should there be a proposal or a possibility to invest in them with good potential returns, I would consider the deal.”

Usmanov has made a lot of his billions making smart investments. What he is talking about with Everton is investing in them. Most interesting is his “good potential returns” comment. This indicates that he would be investing in Everton to make money, like he did with Arsenal.

He invested around £180,000,000 into Arsenal, with a £550,000,000 return. Not a bad profit after 11 years. It should also be noted that bar buying shares, he did not put any other money into the club.

Some recent quotes around his sale of his Arsenal shares make interesting reading.

“When I bought the stake in Arsenal I believed that football brands would be able to generate a profit”.

So in two quotes in a short space of time, we have learnt the true intentions of Usmanov owning football clubs.

He is looking to invest in them to make money. Not to treat them as a play thing like the Manchester City’s owners and Roman Abramovich.

It should also be remembered that having $13bn “worth” is very different to having a lot of disposable cash.

Both City and Abramovich have plunged £1bn into their respective clubs, financing transfers, salaries and ground improvements. In City’s case, that is over a 10 year period. Abramovich has now been at Chelsea for 15 years.

Anyone that thinks that Usmanov will turn up at Everton and throw millions at them to turn them into a force is deluded.

For a start, football is a different world to when Abramovich turned up.

Roman could spend £100million a year on new players, and that was double what Manchester United or Arsenal was spending.

This summer Fulham, Leicester and West Ham all spent £100million on transfers. Everton themselves spent £89million.

It would probably take a good £200million a year investment over 3 or 4 years for Everton to become a top 4 regular, let alone competitors, taking into account transfer fees and the wages – Everton currently pay about £100m in salaries less than Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool.

Usmanov is a very rich man, but his wealth is tied up in investments, in other companies. Does he have £1bn to throw at them, with no guarantee of return? And that is before we even discuss the £500m needed for their new stadium.

I imagine what Usmanov thinks when he sees Everton is a massively undervalued club. A huge chance to make some money, grow his wealth even quicker then he did at Arsenal.

With Everton valued at £200million they are clearly undervalued. When you consider that Tottenham – a similar sized club in terms of historic and recent success – were valued in 2016 at £450million.

Everton need a new stadium, I can see a scenario where Usmanov is thinking the follow:

Spend £100million on the remaining Everton shares – becoming co-owner with friend Farhad Moshiri taking their joint investment to £180million.

Spend £500million on the new ground, whilst selling Goodison Park to Usmanov’s own development company for a nominal fee (the ground it sits on is worth about £6million). Usmanov then develops Goodison into flats for profit.

New buld flats in that area are going for about £300,000, that should yeald about a £150,000 profit per flat. That’ll generate about £80million profit for Usmanov.

So in total, Usmanov would have invested £680million in Everton – with a return already of £80,000,000.

In the time it will take to build the stadium, and with very little debt repayments, over a 10-year period, the club could well be worth nearer £1bn. All with little investment on the playing side.

£1bn would not be unreachable with a 55,000 seater stadium, a top 7 side and new TV deals. It is similar to what Tottenham are worth once the new ground is taken into account.

This is all back of a fag packet stuff, but with Usmanov saying he is looking for good returns, he is clearly talking about money, not trophies.

So Evertonians, cancel that bus period, Arsenal fans, stop talking rubbish about what we could have had.

Usmanov is not going to turn Everton into Manchester City or PSG.