Marseille and Borussia Dortmund are tracking Arsenal’s Ben Cottrell, a ‘classy’ midfielder who has starred for the u18s this season but the player seems more than happy with the club.

Ben Cottrell is still only 17 but he has caught the attention of some of the biggest clubs in Europe. With Reiss Nelson and Jadon Sancho starring in the Bundesliga, a move to Germany could be very tempting for the Arsenal youngster.

Ben Cottrell
Ben Cottrell

Cottrell turned 17 on 31 October so if an Arsenal professional contract hasn’t already been agreed it would seem to be only a matter of time. Arsenal tend to hand professional contracts to scholars when they turn 17. Arthur Okonkwo, for instance, turned 17 on 9 September and signed a deal with the club on 11 September, while Bukayo Saka signed on the same date after turning 17 on 5 September.

Speaking to the Arsenal matchday programme, Cottrell recently explained how he had ended up at Arsenal. “I was spotted by an Arsenal scout when I was playing for my Sunday side Parkfield FC,” he said. “I was invited to a training session and then a trial at Hale End when I was signed. After starting as a fullback we played a few small-sided games and I was asked to go into midfield and that’s where I stayed.”

Ben Cottrell
Ben Cottrell

So what about his style, how does he seem himself as a player? “I’m now an attacking midfielder. I enjoy making and scoring goals but midfielders need to make a contribution defending and that comes naturally to me because of my time as a defender. But it’s an area I want to develop further. I like to learn from players like Steven Gerrard who could make and score goals but was phenomenal defensively too.”

Cottrell names being handed scholarship terms with Arsenal as one of the highlights of his career so far, closely followed by making his England u16 debut against Romania.

For those worried he could be tempted to leave, it seems like he is enjoying his time at Arsenal. “It’s an exciting time for me at Arsenal and for England,” he added. “The change in philosophy has made the style of play more technical and exciting and that has also brought success at youth level and the senior side did well at the World Cup.

“Being a full-time footballer has always been my dream and I’m living it now and have the chance to make it my career. Making the transition from schoolboy football did take some getting used to as we no longer have school to give us a break from training, but we’re used to that now. I feel really honoured that I’m at a club like Arsenal where I have the opportunity to be the best I can be. It’s a dream job.”

Previous articleEpisode 171: Emery ball falls back to Earth
Next articleArsenal ‘positioned to welcome’ €30m Lucas Vazquez in January
Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.