6 Arsenal Youth Team Players with Potential to Be Stars

James McNicholasFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2013

6 Arsenal Youth Team Players with Potential to Be Stars

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    In recent seasons, Arsenal have foregone spending vast sums in the transfer market in favour of bringing through young talent from their academy.

    Fortunately, their ranks are stocked with exciting young talent. Arsenal work hard to bring in some of the most gifted youngsters in world football, and there are several players chomping at the bit to make an impact on the first team.

    Over the next five slides we identify some names to keep an eye on.

Benik Afobe

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    Benik Afobe is back in the Arsenal squad.

    After a disappointing loan spell at Bolton, during which Afobe scored just three times in 23 appearances, the striker has returned to his parent club.

    Arsenal fans will be relieved: with Marouane Chamakh having joined West Ham on loan, the club are lacking depth upfront.

    Afobe is unlikely to be in contention for a first-team spot straight away, but a spate of injuries could see him afforded a chance to show his pace, movement and finishing ability.

    Afobe's outstanding record at youth level suggests he could develop in to a top-class goalscorer.

Serge Gnabry

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    Serge Gnabry joined Arsenal from VfB Stuttgart in summer 2011. After an impressive first campaign with the youth team, he has stepped up to senior level this season.

    It is tremendous progression for one so young. Gnabry is still only 17 and has already made appearances in the Premier League, Champions League and League Cup.

    The German winger possesses similar traits to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: he is stocky, quick and skillful.

    He'll be hoping he can emulate Oxlade-Chamberlain's success in transferring his talents to elite football while still in his teens.

Thomas Eisfeld

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    Arsenal's League Cup victory over Reading this season was remarkable for many reasons. While Theo Walcott's hat-trick hit the headlines, Arsenal fans were left in awe at the mature display of a young German debutant.

    Entering the field as a substitute, Eisfeld immediately impressed with his box-to-box energy and fantastic range of passing.

    His performances for Arsenal Reserves have also suggested he has something of an eye for goal. In 15 academy games this season, he has amassed eight goals.

Ignasi Miquel

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    Ignasi Miquel followed the same path as Cesc Fabregas, moving from Barcelona to North London in his mid-teens.

    He has made to be more patient than Cesc. While Fabregas was making waves in the first-team at 16, Miquel is now 20 and still has only a handful of first-team appearances to his name.

    His time will surely come.

    His style of play is the perfect fusion of his education at La Masia and the Arsenal Academy: He combines height and athleticism with excellent ability on the ball.

    With Sebastien Squillaci and Johan Djourou deemed surplus to requirements and set to leave Arsenal permanently in the summer, Miquel may find himself rising up the pecking order.

Gedion Zelalem

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    Gedion Zelalem is the latest name creating buzz in the Arsenal academy.

    A German citizen of Ethiopian descent, Zelalem moved to the United States in 2006, where his potential was quickly spotted and he swiftly built a reputation as one of the most exciting talents on that side of the Atlantic.

    After a successful trial with Arsenal, Zelalem made the decision to move to London after his 16th birthday.

    A powerful central midfielder in the Patrick Vieira mould, Zelalem will be hoping his globe-trotting journey reaches a successful conclusion in London.

Jernade Meade

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    The struggles of Andre Santos have seen some Arsenal fans calling for Jernade Meade to supplant him as Arsenal's reserve left-back.

    It's easy to see why: Meade is quick, alert and intelligent on the ball. He fits the classic Arsenal left-back archetype, showing similarities in style to the likes of Ashley Cole, Gael Clichy and Kieran Gibbs.

    The signing of Nacho Monreal is a blow to Meade's first-team ambitions, although a spell on loan should alert Arsene Wenger to his enormous potential.