Gnabry, Walker Deals Reaffirm Arsenal and Spurs Commitment to Developing Youth
After a weekend in which both of North London's prime sides ground out important victories, each have used the following day to tie down promising youngsters to new, long-term deals.
First, Arsenal confirmed on their official website that midfielder Serge Gnabry had put pen to paper after exploding onto the first-team scene this season.
Just a few hours later, their rivals followed suit, with Tottenham Hotspur announcing with glee that right-back Kyle Walker had signed a six-year deal that will culminate in 2019—a contract that will see the England international's prime career years take place at White Hart Lane.
It represents a huge vote in confidence from Arsene Wenger and Andre Villas-Boas respectively, as after a summer of spending big on high-profile targets, it's feasible that existing young talent may feel a little spooked.
Mesut Ozil was acquired for £42 million and competes directly with Gnabry for a place in the team. But rather than shy away, the 18-year-old is relishing the star's presence and has since pushed on to make his full debut and score his first goal.
Gnabry is clearly several steps ahead of many others at the club his age, and his new deal is a smart move on Arsenal's behalf in locking up one of its most impressive starlets.
Given the youth international's raw pace and sheer technical talent, at this early stage, it's possible that he—alongside Dan Crowley and Gedion Zelalem—are three of the most promising players in world football right now. All play for Arsenal.
For Walker, his new contract comes with a similar message, but a slight twist: The faith is there, but the former Sheffield United man knows he's being counted on both short-term and long-term to become a difference-maker.
At 23 years of age, he's further along in his career than Gnabry but only nailed down his starting berth over the last 18 months or so. Plenty of fans, particularly of the England national team, aren't exactly delighted with his performances, and at times it seems as though his confidence has dipped as a result.
AVB has selected Walker as his right-back of the future, and with Kyle Naughton an underwhelming and unpopular figure with the terraces, now is the time for him to step up and assume the mantle of best English right-back.
It's the perfect platform to launch an assault on Roy Hodgson's starting XI for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and AVB will be hoping a new contract can provide an extra dose of motivation.
For Gnabry and Walker, these contracts mean different things and vary greatly in terms of immediate responsibilities. For Arsenal and Tottenham, though, the message is exactly the same: We may spend big, but our pre-existing young talents need not worry.
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