A Tale of Kelechi Nwakali and Those Youngsters With Questionable Futures at the Club
It has been confirmed that Arsenal youngster, Kelechi Nwakali, has joined FC Porto on a one season long, and it’s believed that a clause exists for the Portuguese team to buy the lad out rightly if he impresses in Estadio Dragao. With the likes of club captain, Hector Herrera, Danilo Pereira, Paulinho and Otavio in central midfield, Nwakali will have his work cut out for him and as a fellow Nigerian, I’m hopeful that he would be given a chance to show what he’s made of.
Nwakali came into the limelight following his outstanding performances in the 2015 U-17 World Cup in Chile, scoring three goals and winning the Golden Ball as Nigeria claimed its fifth title at this level. This was followed with a move to Arsenal in 2016 but as expected, Nwakali has been shipped out on loan for the past three seasons, with two spells in MVV Maastricht and a stint at VVV Venlo. Following his return from his last campaign on loan, Nwakali has been shipped to Porto and I hear that a buy out clause exists this time, which essentially means that he could potentially have a future outside the Emirates despite not kicking the ball for the team.
He’s not alone in this category, as there have been a host of youngsters with questionable futures at the club. Pictures of the players doing their thing in Singapore are all over the internet but there have been some high-profile omissions which include Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Carl Jenkinson, Chuba Akpom and Krystian Bielik. These guys are more or less living on borrowed time. The Jeff didn’t light any fireworks in Angers, Jenkinson had a good double spell at West Ham but injury hampered his progress in Birmigham, while Akpom has featured in six different clubs on loan and is on the verge of joining Saint Trudien on a permanent basis.
This summer has already seen highly-rated youngsters in the forms of Vlad Dragomir and Yassin Fortune leave the club for pastures anew. Takumo Asano has been shipped to Hannover 96 in Germany and I’m pretty sure he would follow the routes of former Asians like Junichi Inamoto and Park Chu-Young out of the Emirates when his contract is up.
It’s not like the club doesn’t support youth development as we still have the likes of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Rob Holding, Kostantinos Mavropanos and new recruit, Matteo Guendouzi plying their trade with the first team and are currently in the Far East. It’s just that football is such an unforgiving sport with the likes of Jack Wilshere – a Gunner through and through moving to West Ham after the gaffer told him that he couldn’t secure first team football for him.
With Per Mertesacker taking the Head of Youth Academy role this season, the onus will be on him to find the NextGen of Arsenal youngsters that could make a claim for first team action.
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