Martin Samuel believes Arsenal need to build around talented youngsters Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe… selling the pair would be MADNESS and it’s the present that should worry under-pressure manager Mikel Arteta
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Gabriel, Nicolas Pepe and Thomas Partey all started, but Arsenal were without many of their best players against Liverpool.
Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Reiss Nelson to name three, with Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah on the bench.
What Arsenal have going for them this season is youth. Add Kieran Tierney and Martin Odegaard and the makings of a good team appear.
A pity about Matteo Guendouzi because he had potential, too, if his head hadn’t been bigger than his hair. The future actually looks quite bright. It is the present that must worry Mikel Arteta — what remains of this year, and next.
How do Arsenal elevate themselves from mid-table without sacrificing the very players that represent their hope of success?
The suggestion that the club might sell Saka, say, to finance a rebuilding programme appears utterly self-defeating. Saka is the rebuilding programme. He is one of the few individuals worth building around.
Arsenal’s top-level recruitment has been largely dismal, with millions invested on new contracts for dilettantes, too. Yet development is good. Arsenal can produce players, they just can’t spot them.
To then rob one department of its successes, to support the acquisition of more questionable recruits is madness. Do Arsenal really plan to finance the next Willian by losing a player that, at any other club, would be carefully nurtured and prized?
It was Arsene Wenger who once identified what set Manchester United apart on their way to becoming a Treble-winning side. It was the emergence of a group of six players, close to first-team ready, that could be supplemented by investment.
Yet what if United had sold Paul Scholes or David Beckham to cover the purchase of Jaap Stam or Dwight Yorke? It wouldn’t have worked
as the famed Class of 92, but they have four players that one can see regularly playing first-team football, plus Martinelli, who was recruited from a Brazilian third-tier club, Ituano.
That’s a start. That’s a youth influx similar to the one Chelsea hope to build on, and bigger than has yet been seen at Manchester City, Liverpool or even Manchester United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Tierney is 23, Odegaard 22. Do Arsenal have the financial clout to keep him? Will he want a season without access to the Champions League — or maybe even European football?
Odegaard may get better offers. Yet at Arsenal there is a strong chance of first-team football, and a project to invest in, built on youth and hope. It may require a leap of faith, some patience.
Yet Arsenal are currently a poor 10th. What’s the alternative? This?
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