Ricardo Farcas, formerly of the Arsenal Elite Academy, featured in SPAL’s Serie A squad for the first time last weekend.
For those who don’t know, Arsenal set up an ‘Elite Academy’ in Greece back in 2011. The academy was aimed at young players between the ages of 12 and 16, and it was set up to identify new talents in Greece and neighbouring countries.
Though the club admitted from the start that it was unrealistic to expect every player in the academy to go on to play for Arsenal, it nonetheless provided an opportunity for local youngsters to develop and reach their potential.
A couple of Elite Academy stars did end up in England with the Arsenal Academy though. Kostas Pileas played for the Arsenal u18s and u23s, before leaving in 2017. He now plays in Cyprus’ first division for Ermis Aradippou.
Savvas Mourgos joined and left the Arsenal u18s/u23s at roughly the same time as Pileas, and now plays for Norwich City. He’s yet to make his first-team debut, spending time on loan in the Netherlands this season before he suffered a knee injury in October.
Farcas took a different path. He moved from the Elite Academy to Ajax’s academy, before joining Serie A club SPAL last summer. For most of the season so far he played for the u19s, but he made the first-team squad to face Parma last weekend. Though he didn’t get off the bench, the 18-year-old is clearly making great steps forward in his career.
After reaching that milestone, Farcas spoke to Romanian outlet ProSport about his development so far. They first asked him about the transition from Arsenal and Ajax to Italian football.
“I adapted pretty quickly because I found a great team of players and staff (at SPAL),” Farcas said. “They helped me a lot, as well as the experience gained during the times at Arsenal and Ajax.
“It was a great feeling (to sit on the bench against Parma), I lived the game with intensity. I also enjoyed a spectacular game with a sensational result. It remains to be seen (whether there will be more chances in the first-team squad this season). I wish this very much and I will do everything that depends on me to happen.”
Let’s hope the defensive midfielder, who can also play as a centre-back, gets a chance to prove himself at the senior level on the pitch in the coming months.