Arsenal have finally confirmed the signing of Lino Da Cruz Sousa from West Brom, two weeks after it all happened as they waited for his birthday.

Lino Sousa with West Bromwich Albion (Photo via Sousa on Instagram)
Lino Sousa with West Bromwich Albion (Photo via Sousa on Instagram)

Two weeks ago, we brought you news of reports that West Brom’s then 16-year-old Lino Sousa, was signing for Arsenal.

Now, the club have finally confirmed the move after the player turned 17 on 19 January.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Lino told Arsenal Media. “I’d like to thank the club for giving me this opportunity to be here and I’m just really excited to get going to be honest. I feel really good.

“The players have made me feel welcome and I’ve been with the under-18s and under-23s and they’re a really good bunch of lads!

“I’ve seen that obviously recently things have started to change a bit around here and a lot more young players are coming through and there’s a pathway there. That’s what I’m hopefully looking to aim to do and just progress into the first team one day.

“Bukayo and Emile are two players that have done it and there’s plenty more, and hopefully I’ll be able to add to that list one day.

“I just want to get my head down, get back playing, get into that under-23s team and then hopefully be with the first team for pre-season.”

Asked to describe his style of play, Sousa said, “I’m a hard-working person. I’m honest, I would say, I like to get forward a lot, I like to defend and run, and just enjoy myself and express myself on the pitch.

“Hopefully the fans will be able to see that.”

Sousa has already played at u18 and u23 levels for West Brom, as well as featuring for England up to u16 level.

As for why Arsenal are making the signing, the explanation is simple. The academy simply don’t have any depth at left-back right now.

In the last six months, the Arsenal u23s have used a number of players at left-back or left-wing-back.

The list includes Zak Swanson, Jordi Osei-Tutu, and Ryan Alebiosu, who are all right-backs. There’s also Mazeed Ogungbo, who has played left-back in the past, but is now definitely a centre-back.

The club have Joel Lopez as an u23 starter, but behind him, there’s very little in the way of alternatives.

Henry Jeffcott is in the u18 squad and can step up to support Lopez, but only if the u18s themselves have someone to fill in.

So, Sousa will fill one of the two gaps.

Either he’ll be the direct replacement for Lopez when the ex-Barca youngster needs a rest, or he’ll free Jeffcott up to play that u23 backup role.