Over the years, The International Champions Cup has provided a wealth of opportunities to many youngsters of all different ages to create their own lane into the mainstream and towards first team football action; Premier League giants Arsenal are no strangers to this.
Names like Tony Adams, Ashley Cole, Aaron Ramsey, Wojciech Szczesny and Hector Bellerin, to name but a few, honorably served for the Gunner over the years. But, with just Bellerin, who took his first steps back home in Catalonia with Barcelona before his 2011 move to London, remaining, the need amongst supporters intensifies for a new star to be born at the Emirates. Here, we reveal several fledgling youth to keep an eye out for as they continue making strides entering the new decade.
As one of several youth to shine on the summer stage during the tour of the US, U23 talent Folarin Balogun opened spectator eyes to his game and skillset. In an interview with the club’s website, he explained his idolization of star Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and how he “likes to play on the shoulder of the last defender and make runs behind them” similarly to the former Borussia Dortmund hitman. Much like Aubameyang, Balogun is equipped with the speed to blaze a trail, dust his man and be the driving force to break down a defence before fancying a shot on net.
Bagging a gaudy 25 goals in 19 appearances in the U-19 Premier League last season, Balogun certainly knows his way around the penalty area and boasts the clinical sense to capitalize on his chances. Between having Freddie Ljungberg now in the assistant first-team coach role to vouch for the teen and the plethora of matches on the docket in cup play, there is optimism for the New York-born forward to gain some minutes at some point in 2020 for Arsenal.
Tyreece John-Jules, a versatile forward like Balogun, adds to Arsenal’s strike force in the youth setup, having been within the academy since the age of eight. The 18-year old London-born attacker can play with and score on both feet, posing as a more difficult forward to contain. Between being two-footed and his ability to create chances from a secondary striker or wide position, John-Jules has refined his movement and timing after personal idol and Gunner great Thierry Henry. He previously cited his main qualities as a finisher, strong individual and superb link-up player in an interview with the club, all of which are backed up by his 16 goals and 7 assists in 38 appearances for the U23s. With a goal on his U23 debut against Tottenham Hotspur and buzz surrounding his name, John-Jules is tipped for the first-team sooner rather than later.
To support and supply the forward tandem for the future, we point to Miguel Azeez, the class of 2002 central midfielder who is making headway here in late 2019 at 17 years old. Playing with the U18s, Azeez’s positional versatility is a luxury setup by his technique and on the ball ability, staking his claim as yet another midfield player with Emile Smith Rowe to lead Arsenal down the road. After signing his first professional contract in September and scoring a stunner for England’s U18s, it is easy for supporters to get behind Azeez and his upside.
Arsenal’s U14 Boys Gunners will compete in the ICC Futures tournament for the second year straight, hoping to leverage the very platform that made those mentioned above household prospects in England.