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Arsenal Academy: New Coach, 4 first pro contracts & 3 players sent out on loan

It’s been a busy summer at Hale End.

Arsenal v Chelsea - U18 Premier League Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

While we still wait for a hopeful late flurry of moves in the transfer market for the senior side, there has been a lot of activity for the Arsenal U23 and U18 players. Kevin Betsy has joined Hale End as the new U23 coach after spending the last few seasons within the Fulham Academy and the England youth teams. Here’s a quick rundown of the academy news from the past few weeks:

First Professional Contracts Highlighted by Kido Taylor-Hart

One of the academy’s most promising attacking prospects has signed his first professional contract, a three-year deal that will keep him at Arsenal until June 2024. Last season Taylor-Hart split his time across the U18s and U23s, scoring 11 goals and providing 5 assists from 30 appearances. He is expected to be a primary starter for the U23s from the wing. You can read his write-up as part of Arsenal’s Young Gun series here.

Three other academy players also signed their first professional deals recently - Mazeed Ogungbo (CB), Ovie Ejeheri (GK), & Nathan Butler-Oyedeji (Winger).

Harry Clarke

The 20-year-old center back has joined Ross County in the Scottish Premiership on loan for the 2021-22 season. This is Clarke’s second loan, following last season’s move to Oldham Athletic in League Two making 35 appearances helping the side avoid relegation. He should get plenty of opportunities this season as Ross County look to climb up the table after finishing 10th (out of 12) last season.

Tolaji Bola

After joining the Arsenal academy in 2008, the 22-year-old left-back has left the club to join Rotherham United in League One. Bola spent last season splitting his time, first on loan at Rochdale in League Two before returning to Arsenal with the U23s. Despite the Gunners' need for left-back depth behind Tierney, Bola never quite progressed to put himself into serious contention for the first team.

Tom Smith

The 19-year-old goalkeeper has joined Welling United in the National League South for the ‘21/22 season. Despite going out on loan twice before, Smith has only made three appearances away from Arsenal, which was for Dover Athletic last season. With both Okonkwo and Hein ahead of him, this will hopefully offer Smith his first real test at the senior level.

Jordi Osei-Tutu

At the moment Arsenal is overflowing the right-back options, even if none of them seem the ideal long or short-term solution, or seem to want to stick around the Emirates. As such, there is little room for Osei-Tutu to make his case for a first-team role, especially after having most of his ‘20/21 season impacted by a lengthy hamstring injury. He now gets a second chance in the Championship as he joins Nottingham Forest on loan for the season. Osei-Tutu is definitely one to keep an eye on this season, especially if over the next 12 months we see a combination of Bellerin, Maitland-Niles, Cedric, and/or Chambers leave the club.

Academy Summer Transfer Market Recap:

Permanent Moves

  • Daniel Oyegoke - Brentford (Premier League)
  • Zech Medley - Oostende (Belgian First Division)
  • Trae Coyle - FC Lausanne–Sport (Swiss Super League)
  • Mark McGuinness - Cardiff City (Championship)
  • Ben Sheaf - Coventry City (Championship)

Full Season Loans

  • Daniel Ballard - Millwall (Championship)
  • Matt Smith - Doncaster Rovers (League One)
  • Nikolaj Moller - FC Viktoria Koln (German 3.Liga)
  • Deyan Iliev - SKF Sered (Slovakia Super League)
  • Tyreece John-Jules - Blackpool (Championship)
  • Harry Clarke - Ross County (Scottish Premiership)
  • Tom Smith - Welling United (National League South)
  • Jordi Osei-Tutu - Nottingham Forest (Championship)

Arsenal Academy

  • Mika Biereth - joined the Arsenal U23s from Fulham’s academy.
  • Kido Taylor-Hart - signed his first professional contract.
  • Mazeed Ogungbo - signed his first professional contract.
  • Ovie Ejeheri - signed his first professional contract.
  • Nathan Butler-Oyedeji - signed his first professional contract.

If all of that wasn’t enough Arsenal academy news for you, rumors began circulating this past week that midfielder Miguel Azeez has been linked with a move to Portsmouth in League One. He’s been training with the first team this summer and is one with the potential to be a Premier League player down the line.