Arsenal Transfers: 5 Young English Players Arsene Wenger Should Target
Arsene Wenger has established a tradition of unearthing and developing young talent at Arsenal. In recent seasons for better or worse, this philosophy has dominated every level of the team from the academy through to the senior 11.
Wenger's scouting network and innate ability to spot a player have achieved almost mythical status in the world game. His forays into the youth market have yielded many exciting talents.
After placing a strong emphasis on prospects from across the globe during his early years at Arsenal, Wenger has in the last few seasons begun to concentrate his efforts on identifying promising English starlets.
The results have been mixed so far. Jack Wilshere's rise through the ranks at Arsenal is definitely Wenger's biggest recent domestic success story.
Theo Walcott has established himself as a valuable starter and England international. But the speedy winger is still blighted by injury and inconsistency.
Left back Kieran Gibbs will be given every chance to display his talents in the first team this season and needs to prove he can stay healthy.
The recent breakup of the 2009 FA Youth Cup winning team, highlighted by the sale Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, shows that Wenger still has plenty of work to do to find English youngsters good enough to demand inclusion in the Arsenal squad.
With that in mind, here are five young English players Arsene Wenger should target.
5. Nick Powell, Crewe Alexandra
Crewe Alexandra manager Dario Gradi is a legend of the English game. His reputation and proficiency for discovering exceptional youth talents is easily on a par with Arsene Wenger.
Gradi's scouting genius and insistence on a cultured style of play has kept the Alex afloat for years and even produced some England internationals.
One player in Gradi's latest crop of fledglings who has attracted the attention of Arsene Wenger is attacking midfielder Nick Powell. Wenger has made attempts in the past to secure Powell's signature, but so far Gradi has resisted.
Powell is a quick thinking player able to seamlessly link together the midfield and forward lines. Capable of scoring and creating goals the England under 17 international is certainly one to watch out for in the next couple of seasons.
4. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and 3. Luke Shaw, Southampton
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Arsenal's interest in Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain is well know. The bright young wide attacker is one of the most highly touted young English prospects in the game.
Chamberlain's ability to operate either centrally or on the wings makes him an appealing option for Arsene Wenger who values versatility and fluidity.
Chamberlains has the pace, strength, ball skills and intelligence to be a huge success at Arsenal. But so far the Gunners have been reluctant to meet Southampton's admittedly hefty asking price.
Another Saints prodigy linked with a move to North London is Luke Shaw. Shaw is a dynamic attacking left full back with plenty of pace, trickery and a direct style of play. Shaw could join Carl Jenkinson and Kyle Bartley and provide the Gunners with plenty of exciting young defensive depth.
Southampton are understandably keen to retain both of these dynamic youths. But if Arsene Wenger is serious about securing the finest domestic talent he may eventually make the Championship side an offer they can't refuse.
2. Jack Rodwell, Everton
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Everton prodigy Jack Rodwell would command a large transfer fee, with a figure in the region of £15-30 million rumoured to be needed to pry him away from Goodison Park.
A tall, rangy and composed player, Rodwell possesses a decent passing range, good strength and a powerful shot. He has the drive and energy to be a capable central midfielder at the highest level.
But Rodwell's best position may eventually be in central defense. His excellent reading of the game, tough tackling and aerial prowess make him a natural back four linchpin.
For Arsenal Rodwell would be a defensive rock with the technique to comfortably play the ball out from defense to begin attacking moves.
The Gunners have been linked with an approach for Rodwell in the past. His form may have dipped last season but Rodwell has top flight credentials and ability. He would offer Arsene Wenger an intriguing option in either a holding midfield role or as member of the back line.
1. Daniel Sturridge, Striker
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Arsene Wenger is seemingly always on the lookout for more attacking options. England under 21 international Daniel Sturridge would be a good fit.
Sturridge combines tremendous strength, elusive quickness and a natural goalscorer's instinct, to be a constant threat in the opposition box.
The Chelsea frontman enjoyed a successful stint on loan at Bolton in 2011. It remains to be seen how Sturridge fits into the plans of the new Chelsea regime.
With Fernando Torres and veterans Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka ahead of him in the pecking order, a loan move could again be on the cards for Sturridge.
The former Manchester City starlet has excellent footwork and plenty of skill and technique to be a valuable contributor in Arsenal's flowing short passing game.
Whether or not Arsene Wenger could convince Chelsea to allow such a bright young talent to jump ship to a title rival remains to be seen.
But if a deal could be worked out the rewards would be high for the Gunners. Wenger would get one of the most promising young English talents who could step in and contribute right away.
Arsene Wenger will stick to his principles regarding youth development. With prices in the transfer market as high as ever and clubs feeling the pressure of the incoming financial fair play rules, Wenger's eye for talent will need to be sharper than ever.