By Cameron Wolfe.
It is just coming up to 1pm UK time, and so far all that seems to have happened on transfer day is that Nic Bendtner is in Turin to have a medical with Juventus.
So perhaps we will have to look elsewhere for signings… such as the youth project in general and Chuba Akpom in particular.
Now living, as I do, in North America it’s not easy to watch all of the British games unless it’s the mainstream ones. EPL, CL, Capital one Cup (this year) and the FA cup.
I know Tony had to switch off the Wembley v’s Uxbridge match but I would have been quite happy to sit through and watch those bone crunching tackles. Perhaps the difference between us is that I was brought up on Scottish football so hoofing the ball as far up the pitch as possible. Then watching twenty grown men running full speed (normally in the rain) in the same direction.
Hacking down anyone standing in their way to get the ball was power for the cause. It was the seventies. I wasn’t a Gooner then – that didn’t come until 1989.
But now with the inception of the New Gen League we have a chance to maybe see (or if not then at least read about) the next bunch of kids that the Academy has coming through.
And all the reviews of the first Next Gen game against Marseille had Gnarby and Akpom (who scored twice) as the pick of the bunch.
So who is Chuba Akpom?
First the good news. He’s a Gooner. I know loyalty has been a topic of conversation recently but here’s a kid who has already clocked up ten years of service with Arsenal already.
He was spotted playing Sunday league at six years old and was duly signed for Arsenal. He’s played at all the different age levels within the club and normally in the teams above his age. In fact he first played for the Under-18s when he was just 15.
He’s a tall creative and by all accounts very quick. A powerful forward who can play anywhere across the forward line. He’s was a regular in Steve Bould’s youth set-up last season despite still being a schoolboy, making 15 appearances and scoring twice – and all while still only 16 (he’s 17 in October) in the summer.
The forward was given pre-season opportunities against Boreham Wood and Stevenage. In fact Akpom was deployed as the main striker against the League One side, facing perhaps the greatest physical test of his career so far.
He spoke to Arsenal player recently saying, “I think Terry Burton believes in me. He just tells me to go out there, work hard and stick to the things I am good at. It’s just about trying to be penetrative behind the back four, which is all about good movement.
“I just want to try and keep going the way I am now. I would love to get on the bench for the first team, maybe in the Capital One Cup. If not I am just going to try and maintain my place in the reserves.”
It has also been noted that he uses his footballing brain to outsmart his larger opponents
In another recent interview he was asked the question about where he saw his future. On loan perhaps? His answer was: Arsenal’s first team.
At only sixteen he’s a forward at Arsenal who sees his future in the first team at Arsenal. Isn’t that what you want from any young Arsenal player? A young player who’s ambition is to make it all the way in to the first team. And certainly he’s obviously full of confidence. As every striker should be.
The New Gen League obviously gives the younger players a chance to show what they have at a much higher level than just youth or reserve team football. It gives them a chance to compete against the very best other young talented player around Europe.
And just as Mr Wenger said he would be watching each match, not just to see our players but also to see what the other clubs have up their sleeves, I’m sure they’ll be a lot of top managers and scouts attending these games throughout Europe.
Speaking about New Gen Mr Wenger said, “People don’t realise that the most important thing is to keep in touch with the top level, and the top level in Europe is Next Gen.”
It’s just a pity that some of the sports broadcasters don’t share Arsene’s enthusiasm on the subject of the New Gen League. Filming Wembley FC is a bit of a laugh, but just a few days later that was a game of much higher quality and skill going on, just down the road.
Chuba has represented his country already at under 17’s level. Playing thirteen games and scoring five goals. Not bad considering he’s still punching above his weight, and while he was anxiously awaiting his GCSE results.
Who said project youth was dead?
- Do refs get told – you won’t do Man U again?
- Remember 31 August 2011: five transfers in one day
- Champions League Draw
- Ref Review: Arsenal v Sunderland
- Next Gen, Wembley, Champs League
- Lee Probert, a total anti-Arsenal ref
- Chapman’s brilliance with wingers
- Arsenal v Marseille
- Who referees the referees?