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Ivan Gazidis says that Arsenal are driven to give young players the best opportunity in the Premier League.
After a report published by the Press Association revealed that Arsenal gave 19.4% of their Premier League minutes to products of their youth team last season, Gazidis has admitted that the Gunners’ academy is something that the club is driven to success in.
“At Arsenal we’re very much driven by our values, like giving young people a chance,” Gazidis said.
“Young players, sure, but all sorts of other things – youth programmes in Islington, which we’re now taking global. We’re working in the education of migrant children here in Beijing.”
Alex Iwobi, Hector Bellerin, Francis Coquelin and Kieran Gibbs were all handed regular first team appearances last term, especially Bellerin, who played for a total of 2,498 minutes. The others three featured for 6,628.
In fact, the right-back played the sixth highest amount of minutes of any u23 player in the Premier League, only just behind the likes of Southampton’s Nathan Redmond (2,905), Romelu Lukaku (3,267), Paul Pogba (2,609), Dele Alli (3,044), and Sunderland goalkeeper, who’s now signed for Everton, Jordan Pickford (2,610).
Arsenal’s Hale End academy is renowned for giving youngsters fast-track experience, which can see them join the first team for the occasional training session and even feature in cup matches if they impress.
However, while it is something the club should be proud of and can be an example of how handling youth talent correctly can be beneficial, there have been numerous players who either haven’t lived up to expectations of have moved elsewhere once they have.
While youngsters will be given a chance at Arsenal’s academy, it’s by no means a quick fix for a career as a world class footballer. Just because, when they reach their late teens, they may get a chance to train alongside the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette, doesn’t mean that they’ll suddenly be thrown out against Manchester United on a Saturday afternoon.
Our coaches give them the tools and opportunities, but the players have to put in the hard work themselves and prove why they should be there.