Arsenal FC: 5 Young Midfielders Who Could Be Fast Tracked into the First Team
Many transfer targets have been mooted but given Arsene Wenger's reliance on youth, it could be the ideal time for one of the club's own youngsters to reach first team prominence.
When Gilberto Silva and Edu were sidelined with injuries in the summer of 2004, Wenger did not hesitate to throw 16-year-old Fabregas into the mix.
With Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby nursing injuries, now could be the moment for Wenger to once again delve into the youth ranks for his next midfield star.
Here are five midfield starlets who could now be fast tracked into the first team.
5. Chuks Aneke
Chuks Aneke is a highly touted youngster who has enjoyed a rapid rise through the Arsenal youth ranks. He has the talent to fit in well with the current first team squad.
A clever and direct player, possessing quick footwork and a powerful shot, Aneke would bring a real goal threat to the Gunners midfield.
He has the strength and stature to cope with the combative nature of the Premier League. Aneke's physicality combined with deft technique, would allow him to operate in either a deep lying, or advanced role for Arsenal.
If Aneke was granted access to the starting XI he could eventually become the kind of driving force Abou Diaby was always supposed to be.
4. Oguzhan Ozyakup
Dutch youngster Oguzhan Ozyakup is a composed and accomplished midfielder. Ozyakup is an efficient passer with plenty of flair.
He delivers a dangerous cross and is highly proficient from dead ball situations. A cerebral player, Ozyakup is at his best directing play from the halfway line.
Ozyakup could help the Gunners regain a measure of control in midfield. His presence would improve ball retention and provide Arsenal with a stronger base to launch attacks.
Ozyakup would need to be complimented by defensive minded players, willing to shoulder the burden of winning possession and then allowing the young schemer to probe for openings around the pitch.
3. Jon Toral
Plucked from Barcelona's famed youth academy, 16-year-old Jon Toral seems to have a style more suited to the energetic type of game favoured in the Premier League.
An extremely direct player, Toral is at his best finishing off attacking moves. A natural goalscorer from midfield, Toral has excellent timing on his runs and is a decisive finisher.
He could prove to be the perfect compliment to Arsenal's litany of cultured midfielders. Replacing the goals of Fabregas and Nasri is just as important as finding new avenues of creativity.
It would be a big step up for Toral who has yet to feature in Steve Bould's youth set up. But Arsene Wenger must have been convinced of Toral's quality when he decided to swoop for the talented Barcelona youth.
2. Hector Bellerin
Another former Barca starlet, Hector Bellerin would add plenty of speed and dynamism to the Arsenal midfield.
An extremely quick wide player, Bellerin possesses dazzling footwork and is capable of a clever and accurate final delivery.
Bellerin has a good passing range and is versatile enough to play centrally. His tricky ball skills would draw many defenders to him, creating plenty of space for others to exploit.
Arsenal appear well stocked in the wide areas, but a flexible player like Bellerin with plenty of vision and technical ability, would prove particularly useful during a long season.
1. Kyle Ebecilio
Kyle Ebecilio is a rising talent who must soon merit first team consideration. The young Dutch ace recently won the best player of the tournament award at the under-17 World Cup. This award was previously bestowed on the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Wayne Rooney.
An all-around midfielder, Ebecilio possesses the kind of complete game that could help him quickly master the transition to top level football.
A decent tackler with sound positional awareness, Ebecilio is capable of marshaling the midfield and effectively shielding the back four.
He has the technique and guile to open up a defense from deep. With a varied passing range and excellent vision, Ebecilio can create many favourable attacking opportunities for the Arsenal forward line.
The pressure is on Arsene Wenger to spend. The loss of Fabregas and Nasri has made strengthening the midfield a priority.
Wenger's decision to include Nasri in the squad for tomorrow's clash with Liverpool has failed to quell speculation regarding Nasri's imminent move to Manchester City.
If Arsenal are serious about competing for the top prizes, then Wenger needs to spend on established quality to prove that intent.
But if Arsenal are truly committed to youth then promoting a promising youngster is the most appropriate way forward. There are plenty of talented young players at the club who deserve the chance to shine.
A clear direction must be settled on or Arsenal risk remaining in a troubling state of flux and stagnating.
Arsene Wenger must decide what the club's priorities are for this season and beyond.