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Former Arsenal youngsters who thrived elsewhere

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Premier League academy graduates must be more wary than most of the phrase: those whom the gods want to destroy, they call promising first.

Many of the players who have filtered through Arsenal Hale End academy have been encumbered with premature star billing and even more have failed to make it into the first team, let alone live up to the challenge. of such an accumulation. However, the Gunners appear to have been a little too hasty in their assessment of some recent prospects, sadly watching them thrive beyond north London.

As the much-vaunted Folarin Balogun nears his own exit, here are some of the former Arsenal youngsters, past and present, whose success he can hope to replicate outside the Emirates.

After just 62 minutes of football under Arsene Wenger, Josh Dasilva was caught by Brentford’s widely revered Boy Scout Network at the age of 19, although he was injured at the time.

Brentford’s leap of faith paid off as Dasilva quickly formed an element of the club’s midfield during their run to the Championship play-off final in 2020.

Jeff Reine-Adelaide
Jeff Reine-Adelaide has played for all underage groups between 16 and 21 for the France team but has yet to make a senior appearance | Naomi Baker / Getty Images

Barely 12 months after Arsenal accepted a £ 1.4million offer from Angers for Jeff Reine-Adelaide, the Ligue 1 side made over £ 20million when Lyon came to pick up the languid French midfielder in the summer of 2019.

Another year later and Reine-Adelaide are looking for a way out at Les Gones but Arsenal still had to watch, with considerably lighter pockets, Angers earn a huge commission from a player who had spent three years developing in their academy.

Donyell malen
Donyell Malen to score on international debut for Netherlands senior team | Mark Metcalfe / Getty Images

Although the history of youth football has been littered with players unable to transfer their early gifts to the senior game, hindsight certainly suggests that Donyell Malen’s prolific record in Arsenal academy warranted a longer stint with the seniors. .

Outcast of both Arsenal and Ajax academy, Malen has become the young Eredivisie scoring sensation in recent seasons, hitting double digits for league goals in each of his first two full campaigns. with PSV Eindhoven.

FBL-ENG-PR-LEEDS-ARSENAL
Luke Ayling (left) against his former team in Leeds United colors | MICHAEL REGAN / Getty Images

As one of the few among the 2009 FA Youth Cup winners still active in top football, Luke Ayling has clearly rebounded after being released by Arsenal at 18.

The England defender is such an influential and versatile member of Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United, the Argentina coach joked in 2018 that “we have Ayling who can solve any problem”.

Eberechi Eze
Eberechi Eze made his Premier League arc with Crystal Palace but was on Arsenal’s books as a teenager | Malcolm Couzens / Getty Images

Only 13 years old when he was released by Arsenal, Eberechi Eze revealed his difficulty adjusting to such a harsh reality, telling The Independent: “I remember crying in my bedroom for a solid week, my mother tells me it will be okay but not be able to recover from it. “

After breaking through at Queens Park Rangers following a series of further rejections, Eze has since reduced to tears a growing roster of Premier League defenders thanks to his early adaptation to top football with Crystal Palace.

Kyle Walker-Peters, Ismael Bennacer
Ismael Bennacer (left) in action against Tottenham youth team during his time at Arsenal | Clive Rose / Getty Images

The Algerian midfielder’s linchpin for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations triumph – and player of the tournament – quickly emerged as the central cog in the middle for Milan just two years after being deemed surplus to needs from the capital.

Having been seated in the Rossoneri’s double pivot, Milan and Bennacer had a 2020 to treasure and are well positioned among the lively comeback of the Serie A title tilt this season.

Andrew Cole has only had one appearance in Arsenal’s top flight during his all too short-lived time at the club.

Asked by FourFourTwo if there was a character conflict between him and Arsenal manager at the time, George Graham, Cole explained: “It could have been that – I had a personality conflict with a lot of people. people during my career.

“At the time, there were quite a few center-forwards who George said were better than me. I left, and that’s definitely what changed my career and helped me achieve what I achieved.

187 top-flight goals certainly represent a favorable career turn.

Four years after celebrating his small role in Arsenal’s 2015 FA Cup triumph, Serge Gnabry has clearly expressed his allegiances in Tweet the same message, proclaiming: “North London is RED !!!” However, this battle cry follows a four-goal run against former rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the colors of his new team, Bayern Munich.

Arsenal fans will only have been able to momentarily enjoy the role their former prospect played in Bayern’s 7-2 demolition of Spurs, as Gnabry continued his electric form throughout the Bavarians’ continental dominance.

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