Arsenal’s Hale End academy has nurtured players like Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Joe Willock in recent years, and there’s no sign of that production line slowing down any time soon.
Pre-season ordinarily presents coaches with an opportunity for coaches to take a closer look at youth teamers on the fringes of the senior squad, which is an approach that Manchester United and Liverpool have taken this season.
Mikel Arteta has done things a little differently, leaning heavily on the Gunners’ more experienced and established core while bedding in high-profile new signings like Declan Rice, Jurrien Timber and Kai Havertz.
However, Arteta will be taking a closer look at a small pool of youngsters hoping to impress in this summer’s friendlies. Here are four starlets hoping to impress ahead of the upcoming 2023-24 campaign.
Hale End trio Ruell Walters, Ethan Nwaneri and Myles Lewis-Skelly all picked up minutes in Arsenal’s first pre-season friendly against Nurnberg, but they were all left behind for the club’s tour of the United States. The fact that Cozier-Duberry was chosen in the 27-man squad perhaps tells us something about the pecking order.
The 18-year-old winger had caught the eye for the Gunners’ Under-18s and Under-21s in recent years, but is yet to make his competitive first-team debut.
He originally joined Hale End at the age of 14 and signed his first pro deal last summer. Arteta called upon Cozier-Duberry as a late substitute off the bench in Arsenal’s recent 5-3 victory over Barcelona, and the noises suggest he’ll be a big part of the club’s plans going forward.
Amario Cozier-Duberry, remember the name. 🤩
— afcstuff (@afcstuff) September 6, 2022
Intriguingly, Hein has more senior appearances on the international stage than he does in his fledgling club career to date.
The 21-year-old goalkeeper is already a regular for Estonia, with 22 caps to his name. But he’s only made one League Cup appearance for the Gunners and only played a handful of games on loan at Reading back in 2021-22.
But he has a reputation as a penalty-saving extraordinaire and could well establish himself as Aaron Ramsdale’s back-up going forward. Hein replaced the England international at half-time in Arsenal’s 5-0 mauling of MLS All-Stars and looks worthy of further chances.
Arsenal beat Wolves to the punch to sign highly-rated Brazilian prospect Marquinhos from Sao Paulo last summer. There was hope that he could go on to become the next Gabriel Martinelli, but he took time to settle in at the Emirates.
The winger scored on his debut for Norwich City but failed to notch another goal for the club in his half-season loan last term. He returns to his parent club with a point to prove and has been brought along to the States to train with the senior squad,
Marquinhos replaced Fabio Vieira in the victory over MLS All-Stars but was left as an unused substitute against Manchester United and Arsenal. The jury remains out.
Having made his debut looking a little too raw in Arsenal’s infamous 2-0 defeat to newly-promoted Brentford back in 2021, Balogun has come on leaps and bounds since then.
The striker finished fourth in the Ligue 1 scoring charts last season with 21 goals out on loan at Reims.
Balogun’s now undoubtedly one of Arsenal’s most lucrative assets, but his future remains up in the air – it remains to be seen whether his parent club will cash in this summer or if he can push Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Jesus to make himself a part of Arteta’s attacking plans.
Inter Milan have reportedly had a £34million bid rejected. Arsenal are said to be holding out for £50million. One way or another, expect to see him playing regular first-team football next term.
The most notable moment of Balogun’s pre-season was awkwardly being mistaken for Saka in a post-match interview on US TV.