A blog by @DanPinder_
Let’s start with the German youth internationals Gnabry and Zelalem. The Germans were relatively unknown to many Gooners before the tour, but pre-season has seen them shine. Gnabry is known for his silky feet and dribbling; he has also been referred to as the German ‘Messi’. Should he become half as good as Lionel Messi then many of us will be happy. Serge also showed the strength and low centre of gravity; almost Arshavin like, proving difficult to get the ball. He did look a little selfish at times during some areas of games; but that isn’t always a bad thing, he looked very dangerous whenever he running with the ball.
After the Urawa Reds game, in an interview Arsene Wenger said: “He was very good. He is 17 years old and he has a presence, power, good technique and can play on both sides. He is a very interesting, promising talent.” [Arsenal.com]
Zelelam is the least known out of the three prospects. Scouted by ex-Arsenal player Daniel Karbassiyoon, the 16 year old midfielder has been likened to one Cesc Fabregas. During the game against Vietnam it was clear to see why people think that. His vision to pick the pass is more like a 25-year old rather than a 16-year old, but to then actually play the pass is another thing. A lot of gooners have been saying; ‘If you’re good enough, you’re young enough.’ As much as we would all like to see Zelalem play in a couple of first team games, the likelihood of that actually happening are very small. He will have to come up against the likes of Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky. We will likely be seeing the youngster in the Capital One cup this season, with the likes of Akpom and Gnabry.
Chuba Akpom scored 4 goals during the tour; one of them being a defensive mistake from Urawa Reds, however he showed the anticipation and composure. He showed glimpses of his shooting and movement; also he had good link-up play, dropping deep and creating space when needed. For someone who is still a school boy, this academy product has a lot of promise. Dare I say that he could become as lethal as a certain TH14 was when he is in his early 20s. He already looks very good for his age and it’s frightening what these three youth products could become.
So, what happens next? Well, Gnabry and Zelalem didn’t feature in the Arsenal XI game against Leyton Orient, this suggests that they will more than likely be a part of the Emirates Cup squad, likely to play some part against either Napoli or Galatasaray. Chuba Akpom will probably be the least fortunate of the three; he is still a second year scholar and with the signing of Yaya Sanogo and the likelihood of another striker coming in, his game time will either be in the reserves, Capital One cup as a push, but I think it would be best if he went out on loan to a League One team or higher. Chucks Aneke went on loan to Crewe FC last season; and that could have done him the world of good. Should we not be in the Capital Cup during the winter transfer window, I could probably see two, if not all three products been loaned out to lower league clubs.