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Nelson, Nketiah and the Top 10 teenage stars to watch at Arsenal

13:35 EAT 27/04/2018
Eddie Nketiah Reiss Nelson
Goal takes a look at the best up and coming young NxGn players plying their trade for the Gunners

  • Eddie Nketiah Arsenal

    #1 Eddie Nketiah

    The forward burst onto the first team scene this season after scoring twice in Arsenal's 2-1 League Cup win over Norwich City.

    The 18-year-old grew up playing on the streets of Lewisham before joining his local club, where he was eventually picked up by Chelsea who released him in 2015.

    He ended last season with 24 goals in 22 starts for the Under-18 and Under-23s while the current campaign has seen him score nine goals in 11 games for the U23s, including a hat-trick against Everton last month.

    Nketiah is a fast, hard-working frontman with an ability to get in behind opposition defenders and finish well. Despite his relatively small frame, the Englishman will be confident of breaking through into the first team in the coming seasons.

    Read our in-depth profile here: Who is Eddie Nketiah? Arsenal's Carabao Cup scoring sensation who was rejected by Chelsea

  • Reiss Nelson Arsenal

    #2 Reiss Nelson

    Undoubtedly one of Arsenal's biggest current prospects, Nelson has shown over the past season that he is good enough to play in the first team when called upon.

    Nelson's early years included a short spell at Tottenham Hotspur and his quick rise to the top has seen him go from under-23s star to first team debutant in just three seasons.

    The winger, who was deployed at wing-back in the Europa League group stages, impressed during pre-season and has since gone on to make 12 appearances in the first team.

    With just 18 months left on his current contract, Arsenal are desperately trying to tie their starlet down to a new long-term contract to avoid a repeat of the situation which saw Chris Willock depart north London for Benfica last summer.

    Read our in-depth profile here: Who is Reiss Nelson? The teenager considered Arsenal’s best prospect in years

  • Emile Smith-Rowe

    #3 Emile Smith-Rowe

    The 17-year-old was one of England's standout performers in their FIFA Under-17 World Cup win last year.

    Smith-Rowe has established himself in the Under-23 setup this season and was selected as the 19th man for Arsenal's Europa League game against Ostersunds FK, emphasising just how highly rated he is by Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.

    The youngster, who had a trial at Chelsea before arriving at the Hale End academy, can play as a winger but has also been deployed in central midfield where Arsenal's youth coaches aim to improve his defensive skillset and understanding of the game.

  • Joe Willock

    #4 Joe Willock

    The 18-year-old is a versatile winger who was promoted to the first team this season following an impressive pre-season campaign.

    Willock signed a long-term contract extension with Arsenal in November and has caught the eye with performances in the Carabao Cup and Europa League, flourishing due to his powerful running style and ability to pick out a pass with ease.

    Interestingly, Willock is the younger brother of former Arsenal academy star Chris who joined Benfica last summer, while his brother Matty plays for Manchester United.


  • Ben Sheaf

    #5 Ben Sheaf

    Sheaf made his first team debut for Arsenal earlier in the season when he came on against Red Star Belgrade in the Europa League.

    He is able to play in central defence or at right-back and is currently on loan at League Two side Stevenage after impressing for the Under-23s this season.

    “He’s always ahead of the game and his anticipation quality is absolutely huge," Gunners boss Arsene Wenger told

    “He has that kind of mental strength as well. A typical British way of handling things, facing the difficulties with a very cool and intelligent way. There is something in him that I believe will allow him to progress always. Because he analyses well what’s happening to him, he assesses well what is going on and that’s why I believe he will have a good career.”

  • Jordi Osei-Tutu

    #6 Jordi Osei-Tutu

    Osei-Tutu joined Arsenal from Reading's youth academy in 2015 for a fee in the region of £100,000.

    He travelled with the first team to Belgrade for their Europa League match earlier in the season and has looked composed at right-back with his solid defensive attributes providing him a platform from which to build on.

    "For all its physical demands and the mental element too, it’s [right-back] the position I enjoy the most and it’s definitely the role in which I feel most comfortable," the 18-year-old told Arsenal's official website.

    "To make myself the best right back I can be, I’ve worked a lot on my heading in the last year, one-on-ones and passing and I feel I have improved. And that has given me more confidence which has helped my improvement."

  • Dragomir

    #7 Vlad Dragomir

    Romania are on course to qualify for the Under-19 European Championships with Dragomir at the heart of the country's midfield.

    Dragomir, who can play in midfield or behind the striker, has worked on improving his physicality which has helped him impose himself on games for the Arsenal under-23s this season. This led to a call-up to the Europa League squad for the match against BATE Borisov in September.

    “When I saw all the first-team players coming to shake our hands I couldn’t believe it! They notice when you’re upset, they give you advice", Dragomir recently said in an interview with Romanian website

    "They don’t treat you as a kid. You want to talk to one of them? There’s time for you. I wanted to speak to Per Mertesacker most. I was going through a rougher period and I asked him what he’d do if he were me."

  • Nwakali NxGn

    #8 Kelechi Nwakali

    Nwakali has scored three goals for Dutch second division side MVV Maastricht since rejoining the team on loan in January.

    The Nigerian youngster had a disappointing spell on loan at VVV Venlo earlier in the season where he was restricted to just nine appearances for the first team, but has seemingly revived his season with a number of astute performances for MVV in recent weeks.

    Able to play in advanced forward positions or in midfield, Nwakali won the Golden Ball Award at the 2015 Under-17 World Cup where he guided his Super Eagles side to glory.

  • Joao Virginia

    #9 Joao Virginia

    Highly-rated goalkeeper Virginia was selected as Portugal's third-choice shot-stopper for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, where he was the youngest footballer at the games.

    He made his under-23 debut for Arsenal in October and was added to the Gunners' Europa League squad a month later.

    Known for his sharp reflexes and agility, Virginia will be hoping to break through in the coming seasons with Petr Cech and David Ospina seemingly coming to the end of their time at the club.


  • Mavididi

    #10 Stephy Mavididi

    The 19-year-old scored twice in five appearances after joining Charlton on loan in January but sustained a hamstring injury which ruled him out for eight weeks last month.

    The England youth international previously played for the Addicks at the start of 2017 where he impressed with his skills and powerful running upfront.

    Able to play across the frontline, Mavididi spent the first half of the season on loan at Preston North End, where he played 11 times.