Arsenal’s Hale End academy has produced some shining stars in recent years. Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Eddie Nketiah have all made their way through to the first team, while others, such as Folarin Balogun, have impressed on loan elsewhere.
Mikel Arteta may be hesitant to unleash any of the current academy players into the first team due to the charge for the Premier League title, but looking at the setup that has been built may save the club millions going forward.
Jack Wilshere’s U18 squad recently progressed to the FA Youth Cup courtesy of a last-minute winner from Myles Lewis-Skelly, which demonstrated the high level these players are performing to.
From the academy, Charles Sagoe Jr, who joined in 2015 from Fulham, signed his first professional contract in July 2022. The 18-year-old can operate as either an attacking midfielder or on the wing, which he has done so this season.
Who is Charles Sagoe Jr?
As per Transfermarkt, the U21 winger, who was told by Reiss Nelson that he had “everything to become an Arsenal winger”, has made 22 appearances this season in the Premier League 2, where he has scored five goals and got two assists.
However, despite performing consistently well this season and being on the bench against Sporting CP in the Europa League, the livewire forward is yet to make his senior debut under Arteta. This will be something that Sagoe Jr will be hoping to achieve soon, as it may come in the opening stages of cup competitions next season.
Speaking to the Arsenal website, the young attacker gave an insight to his thoughts about breaking into the first team, he said:
“But the work continues, and as the famous saying goes: the reward for hard work is more hard work! It’s very encouraging to see guys like Bukayo [Saka], Reiss [Nelson], Eddie [Nketiah] and Emile [Smith Rowe] smashing it for the first team – it gives me the inspiration to know that Arsenal believes in its young talent, as we are seeing in the Premier League this season.”
This attitude and willingness from the Gunners hierarchy to promote youth into the main setup will benefit Sagoe Jr in the long run. With a bright future ahead of the 18-year-old, Arteta should stick to his principles and trust the youth once more. There will be opportunities in the preseason for the youngsters; it is up to them to make the most of it.