Every major, and for that matter most minor, clubs have an Academy.
The implied aim of these Academies is to foster the next generation of players, to nurture their precocious talents and provide a conveyor belt of top quality players for the club.
Having an academy is the “done thing”, it shows the club’s commitment to the local community, it shows that the club is part of the that community, it allows the club and it’s senior players to “give something back”.
I don’t know how many starry eyed local youngsters have passed through the Arsenal Academy but very few have made it into the first team squad and even fewer have become regular starters.
The most successful young players to make it into the first team squad have come from the academies of other clubs, Fabregas, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain to name but three.
A succession of academy players have reached the fringes of the first team squad only to be sent out on loan and eventually quietly sold off, often to be replaced with more youngsters from other clubs.
Could Arsenal not have found a striker already at Arsenal who was better than Sanogo for instance? If not it doesn’t say much for the current crop.
The under 21 side, as someone mentioned recently, seems more of a rehabilitation facility than a competitive team. Somewhere that the likes of Diaby, Wilshere etc can regain fitness and get a bit of match practice.
A measure of the club’s interest in the under age sides is indicated by where “home” games are played.
These are some of the recent ‘home’ games.
Arsenal U18s v Southampton U18s Saturday May 2nd, Shenley Training Centre (behind closed doors)
Arsenal U21s v Brighton U21s, Monday May 4th, Meadow Park.
Arsenal U21s v Wolves U21s, Monday May 18th , Meadow Park.
Following the recent fracas at an U 21 game involving Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ mother who, reportedly, assaulted Dick Law and threatened to “drag her son off the pitch” even more games are likely to be played behind closed doors.
Would it make sense to close down the Academy and spend the money thus saved in the transfer market? Or should we keep it and hope that one or two diamonds will eventually emerge?
Written by Norfolk Gooner