In the summer of 2017, we picked out 10 youth players to keep an eye on and with Arsenal focusing once again on youngsters in the first team, I decided to take a look and see what had happened to those players.

LEEDS, ENGLAND - AUGUST 21: Eddie Nketiah of Leeds United celebrates during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Brentford at Elland Road on August 21, 2019 in Leeds, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)
LEEDS, ENGLAND – AUGUST 21: Eddie Nketiah of Leeds United celebrates during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Brentford at Elland Road on August 21, 2019 in Leeds, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Vlad Dragomir

Vlad Dragomir

What we said

It’s been a frustrating and challenging campaign for the talented Romanian midfielder, who has performed well on a regular basis but wasn’t given an extended opportunity to feature with the u23s.

He’s adaptable and being a deep-lying central midfielder allows him to create chances with ease, though his team-mates can be wasteful at times.

He is increasingly influential in the number 10  role but hasn’t been played there regularly enough to maintain high levels of consistency. When utilised on the wing, he’s less effective as he doesn’t see much of the ball itself and cannot influence the game very often, which is why it was a genuine surprise to see him play there on more than one occasion across all age-groups.

It could’ve been a failed experiment but he’ll be keen to increase his goal contribution statistics and also look to be more selfish when making darting runs forward from deep. Whenever he makes a probing through ball, there is never ruthless efficiency and he should have more confidence to strike from distance, as justified by his excellent finish against Southampton in September.

Where is he now?

Vlad Dragomir with Perugia (Photo via CalcioGrifo.it)
Vlad Dragomir with Perugia (Photo via CalcioGrifo.it)

After refusing a contract from Arsenal last summer, Vlad moved to Perugia where he has made a bit of a name for himself and is targeting a step up to the next level. He is still only 20.

Ben Sheaf

What we said

The versatile Englishman will be hoping to make his first-team debut in the coming months, having featured on the substitutes’ bench during last season’s EFL Cup campaign.

Although this may not sound like much to the average reader, even being called up to the matchday squad is a big thing for youngsters and across the Academy, Sheaf has established himself as one of the best at 19-years-old.

Originally a defensive-minded midfielder, he has regularly played at centre-back over the past year and continues to gain valuable experience by playing against some of England’s toughest academy sides. It’s entirely possible that he’ll be loaned out the same way Bielik was, in January next year, but before then he will have an eagerness to make his name known in the senior squad whilst maintaining his high standards at youth level.

Where is he now?

Ben Sheaf (Photo via Doncaster Free Press)

Currently on loan with Doncaster Rovers where he is proving himself to be ‘quiet but effective’.

Donyell Malen

Donyell Malen

What we said

Having joined from Ajax two summers ago, Malen is a highly-rated forward who has displayed his excellent potential but regularly plays away from a preferred role as centre forward to accommodate team-mates.

With 10 goals and seven assists last season, it’s fair to say that Malen has continued to improve with regular experience across all age-groups, but is yet to really stamp his authority on the u23s. His most memorable performance was during a 4-1 win over Chelsea at London Colney in late February, where he was tireless when pressing and a regular goal threat too.

This hasn’t been seen too often under Steve Gatting as he regularly drifts in-and-out of matches, something he’ll be looking to improve as he aims to build with a strong pre-season in July.

Where is he now?

EINDHOVEN, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 24: Donyell Malen of PSV Eindhoven during the Group B match of the UEFA Champions League between PSV and Tottenham Hotspur at Philips Stadion on October 24, 2018, in Eindhoven, Netherlands. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
EINDHOVEN, NETHERLANDS – OCTOBER 24: Donyell Malen of PSV Eindhoven during the Group B match of the UEFA Champions League between PSV and Tottenham Hotspur at Philips Stadion on October 24, 2018, in Eindhoven, Netherlands. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Absolutely tearing it up in the Netherlands and scoring for fun with PSV, leading to reports Arsenal are interested in signing him for £50m after selling him for £540k not long after we wrote the above report.

Trae Coyle

What we said

Having only turned 16 in January this year, Trae Coyle is one of the club’s brightest prospects and also made his UEFA Youth League debut this past season too.

Versatile and creative in attack, Coyle usually plays as a number 10 but his attributes allow him to start as a winger or even a centre forward.

An influential display during the u18s 4-2 win over Tottenham in October last year reiterated his strengths. Having created the first two goals with an inviting delivery into the area and a mazy run through midfield, he got himself on the scoresheet with a composed finish in stoppage time.

It’ll be interesting to track his progress with him preparing to train full-time at London Colney, considering last season was his final year as a schoolboy.

Where is he now?

Trae Coyle (Photo via Instagram / TraeCoyle7)
Trae Coyle (Photo via Instagram / TraeCoyle7)

Tare Coyle signed a new deal with Arsenal back in June.

Edward Nketiah

What we said

Having celebrated his 18th birthday recently, the prolific goalscorer has an important year of development ahead of him on all fronts.

It’s likely that the wonderkid will be handled with care and entirely possible that he could feature more regularly with the u23s next term, especially as Stephy Mavididi is likely to go on-loan once more after his encouraging experience was cut short by injury.

24 goals and five further assists across 33 appearances, many which were not 90-minute performances, are impressive stats.

With Tyreece John-Jules in a position to challenge for a regular starting berth within the u18s, Nketiah will be keen to prove his ability by replicating his impressive goalscoring exploits again next season.

Where is he now?

LEEDS, ENGLAND - AUGUST 21: Eddie Nketiah of Leeds United celebrates during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Brentford at Elland Road on August 21, 2019 in Leeds, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)
LEEDS, ENGLAND – AUGUST 21: Eddie Nketiah of Leeds United celebrates during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Brentford at Elland Road on August 21, 2019 in Leeds, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Absolutely bossing it on loan with Leeds with four goals and one assist in just 257 minutes of first team football – a direct goal involvement rate of one every 51.4 minutes.

Chiori Johnson

What we said

Just like Marc Bola’s successful experience with Notts County, it’s likely that Chiori will follow suit with a loan spell of his own at some stage next season. Having played for the u23s on a regular basis, the promising full-back will believe that he’s able to mix it physically in some of England’s lower tiers.

He turns 20 in October and will be eager to establish himself as a genuine defensive-minded prospect, one that could be used as a positive example in the same way that Alex Iwobi’s first-team breakthrough has been utilised by club coaches.

Where is he now?

Currently without a club after being released by Bolton where he moved on a free transfer in the big summer clear-out following Wenger’s departure.

Jordi Osei-Tutu

Jordi Osei-Tutu

What we said

A right-back signed from Reading’s academy, big things are expected of Jordi and his performances have justified the hype thus far. Attack-minded, he’s both quick and skilful in possession of the ball, meaning he provides a dangerous attacking threat in the final third down the flank.

Having signed professional terms towards the end of 2015, it’s likely that the 17-year-old will continue his development in the u18s before hoping to make a seamless transition to u23 football more regularly.

Where is he now?

Jordi Osei-Tutu (Photo via Twitter / VfLBochum1848EN)
Jordi Osei-Tutu (Photo via Twitter / VfLBochum1848EN)

Out on loan with Vfl Bochum where he’s scored one goal in five appearances.

Yassin Fortune

What we said

A number of troublesome injuries have halted the French teenager in his attempts to progress, though he has shown flashes of individual brilliance in the u18s such as his strike against Fulham in early February which reiterates how important it is that he remains fit and available throughout next season to boost his experience levels and maturity on the pitch.

Where is he now?

via FC Sion

Another who says he rejected the chance to sign a deal with Arsenal (a four-year one, apparently), he signed for FC Sion in the summer of 2018 and has played 32 times for them, scoring two and assisting one.

Marcus McGuane

What we said

The highly-rated midfielder will be hoping to emulate teammates introduced as regulars in the u23s side. Having shown his quality at u18 level, he’s often been unfortunate not to be given an extended opportunity with the u23s but with Ismael Bennacer, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and other players featuring higher in the pecking order, he has had to remain patient which is easier said than done.

Where is he now?

McGuane was a shock departure, leaving for Barcelona in the 2018 January window. Just eight months later he was sent on loan to Telstar, explaining here where it went wrong at Barca.

Reiss Nelson

What we said

It wouldn’t be a top 10 without our Young Player of the Season now, would it?

The 17-year-old winger has continued to improve and asserted his credentials as a guaranteed starter at u23 level, so questions begin to arise – does he remain at the club and wait for a first-team debut or go out on-loan elsewhere in the country?

Read our full profile on Reiss here for some answers to those questions

Where is he now?

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24:  Reiss Nelson of Arsenal celebrates scoring his teams fourth goal of the game during the Carabao Cup Third Round match between Arsenal FC and Nottingham Forrest at Emirates Stadium on September 24, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 24: Reiss Nelson of Arsenal celebrates scoring his teams fourth goal of the game during the Carabao Cup Third Round match between Arsenal FC and Nottingham Forrest at Emirates Stadium on September 24, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Playing and scoring for the Arsenal first team.