Jack Wilshere in action for Arsenal against Newcastle in the Premier League, St James Park, Newcastle, February 2011

Arsenal’s 5 PFA Young Player of the Year winners & how they fared

Arsenal’s young sensation Bukayo Saka has been nominated for the PFA Premier League Player of the Year and Young Player of the year awards after a fantastic campaign, and he is one of the favourites for the latter award. 

The Gunners pride themselves on the development of young players both within the academy as well as young gems signed from elsewhere and currently boast the youngest squad in the league as they attempt to finish in the top four for the first time in five years.

Saka has 11 goals and six assists to his name this season, and yet again has been one of Arsenal’s standout players, while also scoring against Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham.

The previous five Arsenal players to win the award all went on to have good careers, but some achieved a lot more than others, whilst some found more success away from the club. Here’s how they fared.

Tony Adams

Mr Arsenal himself, Adams came through the youth ranks to establish himself as the greatest defender the club has seen, and one of their biggest ever legends.

Adams won the award in the 1986-87 season, whilst the top flight was still the First Division, making 42 league appearances and scoring six times as Arsenal finished fourth.

This was the making of Adams, who would go on to captain Arsenal in three different decades before retiring as a one-club man in 2002.

Adams has a statue outside the Emirates, immortalising him at the club.

Paul Merson

The retired player you now see giving controversial takes on Soccer Saturday was once the next big thing to emerge from the Arsenal academy and picked up the award in 1988-89.

Arsenal won the league in the most dramatic way possible by scoring a last-minute goal at Anfield to steal the title from Liverpool, and Merson had scored 10 goals throughout the season.

Merson would go on to score 86 times for the club in 369 games before leaving in 1997, and is regarded as a club hero.

Nicolas Anelka

One of the most explosive young strikers to grace the Premier League, Anelka was on fire in his two seasons at Arsenal, winning the award in 1999 before moving to Real Madrid.

The Frenchman became the first player from mainland Europe to win the award, and it was fully deserved as he scored 17 league goals.

He would go on to have a very interesting career…

Arsenal's Nicolas Anelka celebrates his goal during his side's 3-0 victory over Manchester United at Highbury, 20 September 1998

READ: An ode to Nicolas Anelka at Arsenal, one of the best transfers ever


Cesc Fabregas

One of the best youngsters Arsenal ever had, Fabregas nearly helped lead Arsenal to the league title in 2007-08, where they ended four points behind Manchester United but his performances were more than deserving of the award.

With 7 goals and 19 assists in the league as a 19-year-old, Fabregas will go down as one of the greatest teenagers to ever play in the Premier League.

He should have become a legend at the club, but the circumstances surrounding his departure to Barcelona, before later joining Chelsea has left a bitter taste in the mouths of a lot of fans, but he was simply sublime during his time in North London.

“Arsenal will always be the team that believed in me the most. When I was a young kid, 16 years old,” Fabregas stated in 2017.

“I don’t care what people think about me any more. It’s just about how I feel towards them.

“Arsene Wenger, especially, and Arsenal Football Club, gave me everything.

“Without Arsenal I would not be a World Cup winner & have experienced all I’m doing in my life. I will forever be grateful.

What. A. Player.

Jack Wilshere

‘Super Jack’ is one of the greatest talents to come out of the Hale End academy, and for a while it looked like he would reach the very top.

Wilshere was given the award in 2010-11 after a stellar season, where he played 35 league games as a teenager and wowed the Arsenal fans with his sublime technique and passing ability.

The Englishman famously dominated prime Barcelona at the Emirates that season, and fully deserved the award but injuries would eventually derail his progress.

One of the unluckiest players in Arsenal’s history when it came to injuries, he would miss the entire 2011-12 campaign before continuing to miss games until he left the club in 2018.

Now playing in the Danish top-flight, his career is one of unfulfilled potential, but teenage Wilshere was a talent worth the entry fee alone.

More Arsenal

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A forensic analysis of Jack Wilshere’s stunning 2011 CL display v Barcelona

Remembering the season ‘little kid’ Cesc Fabregas stole Arsenal’s hearts

Can you name the last four players to wear numbers 1-11 at Arsenal?