Tag Archives: Dan Crowley

Arsenal lose 3rd young Englishman abroad

For years a criticism of English players has been that they do not test themselves abroad. It is one reason why the English national team has struggled over the years. No one go’s abroad and learns a different culture of how to play the game.

In recent years, we have seen very few players move to Italy, France, Spain or Germany.

Micah Richards and Ashley Cole both had stays in Italy. One rebuilding his career, one coming to the end. Whilst Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard were star names in the MLS. Jermaine Defoe also went to the American retirement, but soon realised there wss plenty left in his tank and returned to the Premier League.

It is around about a decade since Real Madrid took David Beckham, Steve McManaman and Michael Owen to La Liga. Since then, not so much of substance.

I will always remember the France 1998 World Cup winning side, and how the majority of their key players played outside the French league. Zinedine Zidane, Didier Deschamps and Marcel Desailly were all in Serie A during its glory years, Bixente Lizarazu played for Bayern Munich, Patrick Vieira for Arsenal, Christian Karembeu for Real Madrid. The lessons they all absorbed and brought back to Les Bleus’ party were regarded as vital.

So it is interesting to see 3 young Arsenal players leave for the continent this summer. Not on loan deals like 156 Chelsea players, but on permanent deals.

Highly rated youngster Chris Willock decided against signing a new deal at Arsenal this summer, and instead took his speed and trickery to Portuguese champions Benfica on a five-year deal.

At just 19, it could be a brilliant move for him. The Portuguese league promotes attacking, free flowing football. A player like Willock will thrive in the league. He will have a chance to show his skills at a high level, rather than sit in Arsenal’s reserves, or be booted around in the Championship.

Kaylen Hinds was the second Arsenal player out the door.

The Islington local, also just 18, joined German outfit VfL Wolfsburg on a three-year deal for reportedly ~£2,000,000.

Wolfsburg’s manager is former Academy Manager Andries Jonker, who is ably assisting by Freddie Ljungberg. They both must have seen something in Hinds whilst at Arsenal to make the youngster one of their first signings.

The final, and most recent, Arsenal youngster to make the move abroad is Dan Crowley.

When Crowley joined Arsenal at 16, he was labelled the next Jack Wilshere. Crowley to Wilshere is what Fran Merida was to Cesc Fabregas.

Crowley was loaned out 3 times whilst at Arsenal, the last being to Dutch side Go Ahead Eagles.

He must have impressed in his 6 month spell because it has secured him a 3 year contract with Willem II.

It takes a lot, as a teenager, to uproot yourself from your home country and work elsewhere. Especially in something as pressurised and cut throat at football. Some will say they get paid enough so the money should compensate but it does not compensate for the mental strain that any human being might face.

Too all 3, we wish you well and hope that by moving abroad, you open the door for more young Englishmen to make the move. And in turn the England National team improves as move players join up with the squad having learnt the game in a different country.

Good luck to all 3.


After last nights performance, is Arsenal Youth cupboard bare?

Two blogs in two days. That is what having no sleep yesterday, and having shed loads of coffee today does to a man. Also having booked a day off work, it left not much else then to sit and contemplate yesterday’s performance.

In this mornings blog, I was heavily critical of the Arsenal youngsters that played. Iwobi, Kamara & Bennacer. All clearly out of their depth. Clearly not good enough.

Added to this, Arsenal have not exactly pulled up any trees in recent years in youth competitions, finishing bottom of the U18s last season and only 4 wins from 11 games (and to points off league leaders Chelsea), it is clear we have some issues. Although our U21s are currently played 5, won 5.

If Iwobi, Kamara & Bennacer are the best we have coming through, it is unlikely we will be developing the next Jack Wilshere any time some. It is just as likely that we will not be developing the next Emmanuel Frimpong either, by the standard set of those last night.

Saying that, this is only half the truth. When you actually dig down into Arsenal’s youth set up, including reading Jorge Bird’s Arsenal Youth site, it is perhaps easy to establish that Kamara, Iwobi & Bennacer are not the best youngesters coming through. And last night, the simple fact is, our best youth products were not available for selection.

Going through Arsenal’s loanees page and the aforementioned site by Jorge Bird, there is a list of 9 players all aged 20 or under, who did not play last night. All of whom have a brighter future than Kamara, Iwobi & Bennacer.

Hector Bellerin – I am sure had it not been for his progression into the first team which has seen him become, in my opinion, the best right back in the league, Bellerin would have played last night, and we would all be going on about his potential. Instead, he is the first name on the team sheet (actually, second as the goal keeper go’s first) and we talk about his ability now, rather than his potential. Still just 20.

Serge Gnabry – Kind of the forgotten man at Arsenal. He made is debut in the League Cup competition 3 years ago against Coventry in a 6-1 victory and the season after, looked to be making great strides, playing in 14 games in total, and getting a nomination for European Gold Boy. However, his 2014/15 never got up and running due to that Arsenal curse. Injury. This year, he finds himself off loan at WBA, where Tony Pullis recently said that Gnabry just hasn’t been for me”. Whether it is Gnabry’s weakness at the breakdown, or because he is not the best scrummager, that has led to him being dropped by Pullis is not clear.

The lad is a clear talent. The effect of his injury has had on him we do not yet, and the year spent playing rugby for WBA will not help his development. But he is still just 20. That is 3 years younger than Joel Campbell and just a year older than Alex Iwobi. He is a stand out talent.

Next season, he will return to the Arsenal squad, probably taking Joel Campbell’s place, providing the back up on the wings for Sanchez, Oxlade-Chamberlain & Walcott.

Gedion Zelalem  – Alongside Gnabry, he is another youngster who made his debut a few years ago. After a few solid pre season tours, he found last year, like Gnabry, curtailed by injury. Now on loan at Rangers, he is still just 18. Incredible for a player who has been at the club for so long.

His current loan deal is set to expire at the end of the year, but so impressed with him, Rangers are looking to extend that until the end of the season.

Last night, he surely would have provided the side with the vision and passing it sorely missed?

Chuba Akpom – When we let go Benik Afobe – whom many still complain about – it had nothing to do with Yaya Sanogo, and everything to do with Chuba Akpom. Nearly 3 years young, Akpom had all ready taken over Afobe in terms of talent when he was just 18. With just 3 goals so far this year on loan at Hull, he still has someway to go to fulfill his potential that at one time, had Barcelona sniffing around. He might not make it at Arsenal, but he is better than anything on show last night (and better than Sanogo).

Dan Crowley – Last night, we failed to create anything. I can not remember a single clear cut chance. After Oxlade-Chamberlain went off, it left Flamini as our midfield creator. Still just 18, he is a pocket dynamo. His loan spell at Barnsley was today cut short, with the press reporting this as ‘failing to make an impact’. However, with a lack of midfield options, he might find himself back at Arsenal and with the first team. Think Jack Wilshere. Just not as good.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles – He of the very angry mother who last season was banned from the club after a bust up with club staff. If he was not any good, the club would have good rid after the issue – ala Jay Bothroyd – but they kept with him. He became the second youngest player to play for Arsenal in the Champions League last year against Galatasaray, where he played through the middle. Comfortable on the ball, he has power and pace and can pick out a path. Sadly, a loan deal with Ipswich stopped him playing. He has impressed their if you are wondering. And he is still just 18.

Isaac Hayden – At Hull alongside Akpom, the former U21 captain is still just 20. With 2 appearances to Arsenal to his name, the centre back / defensive midfielder would surely have been a better bet (and is a better prospect) than Glen Kamara.

Jon Toral – His future could well end up as being the answer to the quiz question “Which player joined Arsenal on the same day from Barcelona as club legend Hector Bellerin?” But for now, he is simply still a prospect. His career has not taken off as much as Bellerin, but he is a good player. He scored his first senior hat trick for Brentford last year during a loan spell. Currently at Birmingham, he is perhaps another who, whilst might not have a long term future at Arsenal, is certainly better than those who started last night.

Jeff Reine-Adelaide – Up until now, everyone we have discussed has been out on loan. Jeff is different. He is currently playing for France in the FIFA U17 World Cup. Just 17, he was this summers player that Arsenal fan’s over hyped after a few good performances in pre season.

I am sure we would have seen him in this year’s League Cup had it not been for drawing Spurs in the 3rd round, and him being away yesterday on International duty. If you want to see what we missed, he plays tomorrow for France against Costa Rica. I know nothing about him, but YouTube makes him look good.

Also currently at the tournament are 17 year old fowards Kaylen Hinds, Chris Willock & Stephy Mavididi, all of whom are their representing England. Add in the likes of Bielek (17), Dragomir (16), Bola (17), Fortune (16) & Nelson (15), all of whom this years League Cup was perhaps a year or two too early for their development (maybe Bennacer falls into this as well, he is, after all, just 17), we do have some decent youngsters at the club.


Last night was not a good example of the youngsters we have at the club. Due to different reasons, many of our top prospects were not available last night, leaving the likes of Kamara, Iwobi & Bennacer to be the best of the rest. All 3 would struggle to make an Arsenal U21 side. A side which, had it played last night, would probably have gone through to the next round of the League Cup.

Arsenal U21 side:

Bellerin Chambers Hayden Bola
Zalelem Crowley
Gnabry Jeff Naitland-Miles

Bench: Huddart, Moore, Bielek, Toral, Willock, Hinds, Mavididi