Promoting and playing youth players become a staple under Arsene Wenger’s time at Arsenal. However, in the later years of the Wenger era, several youngsters failed to either breakthrough to the first team or get enough opportunities to fully test their potential. Those lost players (and revenue) are just one of the many factors contributing to the club’s current situation. But it appears as though things are beginning to return towards a youth-focused approach.
Over the past two weeks we’ve seen several headlines on Arsenal’s push to integrate academy prospects:
- Freddie Ljungberg being promoted to the first team coach staff.
- The club’s first summer signing was 18-year-old Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli.
- Academy graduates Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah, and Reiss Nelson were all given first team numbers.
- Then came the news that Emile Smith Rowe earned his spot as well.
Who’s next in line?
Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are the starters, but the structure of the depth chart behind them is unsettled. Danny Welbeck left on a free. Eddie Nketiah held the 4th spot last season but is need of a full season on loan—starting. Gabriel Martinelli would benefit from spending his first year acclimating to London and life at Arsenal, but we’re unsure of the club’s plans for him in 2019/20.
But for Tyreece John-Jules the goals seem set—lead the Arsenal U23s and earn multiple call-ups to the senior team bench.
John-Jules is one of the pure center forwards in a academy setup, which is full of wingers and attacking midfielders. He plays two-footed, has been with Arsenal since the age of eight, and at 6’0”, only Aubameyang is taller (from the strikers).
Last season Tyreece appeared 30 times, scoring 16 goals and delivering 9 assists across competitions. He netted a pair of hat tricks in back-to-back matches with the U18s against Leicester’s U18 side. This past weekend he scored twice as Arsenal came back from 3-1 down against Boreham Wood to draw 3-3.
After the match, John-Jules told Arsenal.com that his goals were to stay fit this season and “hopefully I can make my competitive debut this season and be a strong part of the under-23s team and then kick on.”
For John-Jules’ sake and the Arsenal fan base, let’s hope he thrives with the U23s this season, earning call-ups for both Cups and the group stage of the Europa League. If so, 2020/21 becomes a real potential for a first-team breakthrough.