With the Gunners inspiring recent win over Manchester United, the heat surrounding Arsene Wenger has subsided a bit.
Maybe the professor’s methods aren’t as outmoded as many had claimed?
It’s all too easy to jump on the revelry wagon after a win and off the bridge after a defeat. What takes commitment is staying the course and not wavering in the face of criticism.
That being said, let’s take a look at some young players Wenger should consider bringing into the fold. These names are all designed to help the Gunners qualify for European play the next 14 years in a row (as they have the previous 14) more than necessarily winning anything next year. Although, many of the players I have selected would undoubtedly play key roles in any trophy hunt next season.
Enough of my blabbering. It’s late, I’m tired, and must rise for work in just a few short hours. Here are 10 players, age 20 or under, who should be wearing Arsenal kits next year.
With pretty much every team in Europe vying for the prolific services of the 17-year-old Anderlecht phenomenon, Arsene Wenger would need to flash a little dough to capture Lukaku’s signature, that’s for sure.
Therein may lie the problem, as we all know.
With the rumor mill setting a potential transfer fee as high as $25 million, the only real chance of this happening is if Stan Kroenke hands Wenger the keys to a conversion van full of cash in large denominations and tells him to bring it back full of summer signings.
But still, it’s a beautiful thing to picture a player hailed as “the new Didier Drogba” celebrating scores in an Arsenal kit, and Lukaku looks to be a goal-machine for years to come.
In 64 appearances at RFC Anderlecht, the young Belgian sensation has returned 29 goals, including 14 this year to go with his six assists. All before he would be able to vote, drink a beer or buy a pack of cigarettes here in the States.
Maybe I’m smoking opium but, oh, what dreams!
The 19-year-old Brazilian star is being fiercely courted by such clubs as Chelsea and Inter Milan, according to reports, and has expressed interest in a European move, but it is still unclear where he will play next season.
“I do not know what the future holds,” Neymar said to ESPNsoccernet. “It is in the hands of God, but it’s nice to know my work is appreciated.
God. Interesting thing to call one’s agent.
Anywho, boasting 63 goals in 126 appearances for famous Brazilian side Santos, the former domestic home of Pele, Neymar would add some serious firepower to the Gunners armaments. With three caps for Brazil’s senior squad, the young striker has returned an equal number of goals.
The price tag is where this whole business falls apart however, as it is unlikely that Neymar goes anywhere for less than $30 million. The chances of the club ponying up that kind of cash for anyone, let alone a teenager, seem historically slim. Nonetheless, the prospects of the young phenom plying his trade at the Emirates is enough to make the hairs on the back of the neck stand in anticipation.
This opium really is top-drawer. Please don’t wake me.
Should Andrey Arshavin depart the club this summer, as has been widely speculated, another Russian may be just the man to take his place.
With 12 senior caps under his belt, the 20-year-old Dzagoev has already made a name for himself in the Russian Premier League and beyond. After making his debut in the top-flight with CSKA Moscow in 2008 and winning the Young Player of the Year award, Dzagoev is widely regarded as a star in the making and has reportedly been receiving longing glances from Manchester United and Chelsea, among others.
It’s hard to imagine a better way to replace Arshavin then with a young star bearing the nickname “The New Arshavin.” Dzagoev can be utilized as a second striker or attacking midfielder, and his awareness and field vision have won comparisons with that of Dennis Bergkamp from some quarters.
The youngest ever outfield player to suit up for the Russian national team would be a stellar addition to the Gunners roster, but the question is, how much will he cost?
With the interest from top clubs, his fee could rise rapidly and a bidding war is an affair unlikely to be won by Arsenal—unless Stan Kroenke takes it as a personal affront and opens his wallet with a vengeance. Although, with a wealth of potential transfer targets being bandied about, it’s possible that the player slips through the cracks and is available for a reasonable sum.
According to recent reports, Arsene Wenger has grown tired of the inconsistencies of Andrey Arshavin and will look to move the Russian international in the summer. The story goes that the Gunners' boss will replace the attacker, with Barcelona’s Krkic and Shakhtar Donetsk forward Willian being named as potential targets.
The 20-year-old Spaniard has long been a target of Arsene Wenger’s admiration. With the Spain international failing to find a place in Barca’s first team, this is a scenario that actually makes some sense. With the likes of Lionel Messi, David Villa and Pedro ahead of him on the depth chart at Camp Nou, and with the recent acquisition of Ibrahim Affelay threatening his position further, Krkic may well see his future away from the Catalan giants, and the Emirates is an enticing destination for any young player.
With the price of $15 million being thrown around, this is something that could really happen. That’s not a prohibitive price at all for a player of Krkic’s ability, and well within the reasonable range for an Arsenal transfer.
Bojan has admitted to being an admirer of the brand of football played in the Premier League, the style of play in favor at the Emirates is likely to whet the young man’s appetite.
While recently become the property of Inter Milan as of his 18th birthday, Coutinho is just the kind of player Arsenal fans would get excited about. A slick two-footed midfielder, who routinely displays dazzling feats of dribbling ability, he would fit right in with the Gunners.
Since joining Inter, he has garnered widespread praise for his ability and has been hailed as one of the most promising young stars in the Italian Serie A.
The problem is simple: Inter chairman Massimo Moratti has called Coutinho “the future of Inter.” What chance is there he would sell him? Probably not too much.
That being said, bags of cash have the funny effect of completely changing someone’s tune and, should a few of them originate at the Emirates, the player returned would be an exciting one.
With the the futures of Cesc Fabregas, Andrey Arshavin and many others in doubt at the club, the time may be right to splash out on a big move for a young superstar in the making. With players like Coutinho, Alexander Pato, Neymar and Ganso, Brazil looks to be a very strong national side for years to come. Grab one of these guys before they become priced beyond out of range.
The opium appears to have made a comeback. I’m clearly still dreaming.
The 20-year-old Lille midfielder has been on Arsene Wenger’s radar for some time now, and has expressed interest in moving to Arsenal, calling it a “dream club.”
This may be the summer the young Belgian joins the Gunners.
If Cesc Fabregas moves on, then Hazard is exactly the kind of player Wenger may bring in. He’s young. He has the dribbling ability of a Samir Nasri, and the potential to be a truly great player. Even if Fabregas stays put, a move for Hazard makes a lot of sense. It seems unlikely that he will play another season in Ligue 1, so why not snap him up before another club does.
Hazard has been capped 19 times with Belgium and played at Lille since 2007.
He is part of a new generation of young players from Belgium who look to lift that nation’s fortunes on the international stage for years to come. If he came to Arsenal, he would join another member of what is already being referred to as a “golden generation” of Belgian footballers. Thomas Vermaelen.
Giuliano currently wears the jersey on the right
While perhaps not as well known a name as some of the others on this list, the 20-year-old FC Dnipro midfielder won’t remain that way forever.
He plays as an attacking midfielder and would make a fine addition to the Gunners roster.
He is a highly creative player with good field vision and a high work rate, and grew up idolizing fellow Brazilian, Kaka. His recent move to Ukraine is viewed as a short-term springboard for a bigger switch to another European club in the near future.
Why not Arsenal?
Again, it will come to dollars and cents but, if the club is willing to spend the money, there is a chance the young star in the making could find a welcoming home at the Emirates.
With David Alaba not seeing much first-team action at Bayern Munich, the promising Viennese youngster could be looking to make a move in the near future, and Arsene Wenger would surely relish having a young talent like Alaba on the roster.
Already the youngest player ever capped for Austria at age 18, it’s tantalizing to think what other heights could be attained by the youngster.
Currently on loan at 1899 Hoffenheim, Alaba has scored two goals with the club.
With only one season under his belt at RC Lens, Aurier is still very much a work in progress. The 18-year-old fullback has shown much promise in his short time with the senior side, and would be a nice young right back to bring through the system at the Emirates.
While he’s not all that well known, he also probably wouldn’t cost all that much.
What the hell, why not?
Digne is essentially the same story as Serge Aurier. A promising young French player who plays in Ligue 1 with Lille, Digne is just 17-years-old and the sky is the limit for the youthful fullback.
Digne has represented France at the youth level from U-16 to U-18, and would be a perfect eventual replacement for either of Arsenal’s French fullbacks.
Without too much to go on, it’s easy to view a signing such as this as a risk. However, he wouldn’t cost very much to sign and, in truth, everything’s a gamble—even leaving your house.