17-year-old Arsenal academy goalkeeper Karl Hein has signed his first professional contract with the club, after completing his move from Estonian side FC Nomme United last summer.
Arsenal confirmed Hein’s new deal on Thursday, in a brief post to congratulate him on the contract and on his progress this season. The young goalkeeper signed for the academy from Estonian third-tier side FC Nomme United last summer, where he’d been playing for the senior side since the age of 15.
Joining Arsenal as a 16-year-old, it was made clear in reports at the time that Hein would initially sign on a scholarship deal until he turned 17 in April, at which point he’d agreed on a three-year professional contract in principle. This latest announcement from the club is just to confirm he’s now signed that contract.
Hein broke into the Arsenal u18s’ starting lineup in October, starting five league games and one FA Youth Cup match. He impressed in those appearances and proved he could effectively communicate with his defence in English as well. Unfortunately, he then fractured his hand, leaving him on the sidelines for the remainder of the season.
The Gunners had Arthur Okonkwo to call on for a while, in Hein’s absence, before Okonkwo was promoted to the u23s. 17-year-old English goalkeeper Tom Smith returned from injury just in time to fill in after that.
Most likely, Hein will spend next season back in the u18s, with the hope that his second campaign will be less disrupted by injury.