This morning Arsenal announced that four youngsters put pen to paper on professional deals at the Club while eight Gunners are departing this summer. Here we take a look at all 12 players involved.
Some of Arsenal’s forward-thinking stars may have earned a lot of the Youth Cup plaudits last season but Luke Ayling deserves as much praise as anyone. The stylish defender played every minute of the triumphant cup run impressing in the air and on the ground. Luke signed scholarship forms in 2007/08 and his consistency at Under-18 level saw him break into Neil Banfield’s Reserves last season making nine appearances at centre-half and right-back.
Craig is another member of Steve Bould’s FA Youth Cup winning Under-18s and he supplemented his tremendous work at Academy Level with a string of classy performances for the Reserves. Although he is equally confident as a holding midfielder, Craig spent most of 2008/09 at right-back where his pace, agility and clinical distribution caught the eye.
It’s hard to believe that last season was only James’ first as an Under-18 regular. The young goalkeeper was a mainstay in the FA Youth Cup and Premier Academy League in 2008/09 and also made three Reserve team appearances towards the end of the season. Known for his superb shot-stopping ability, James has also improved immeasurably in kicking and catching.
Cedric has been affiliated with the Club since he was nine and rose through the Hale End Academy. The 17-year-old played most of his football in the Under-18s last term but did feature for the Reserve team on a handful of occasions. His highlight of the season came in the Premier Academy League Semi-final when he slotted the Gunners ahead against Manchester City at Eastlands. Usually deployed at left-back, the rapid Frenchman also starred on the left-wing in 2008/09.
Amaury will be leaving after failing to make an impact during his one season at the Club. The Portuguese Under-21 international played most of his football in Neil Banfield’s Reserves but did make four substitute appearances for the first team.
Former-Wimbledon youngster James signed professional terms in 2007 and made 16 reserve outings in his debut season at the Club. However second-string appearances were limited last term and he moved on-loan to Nottingham forest in October but didn’t appear in their first-team.
Cultured striker Rui is moving on after almost three years at the Club. The Portuguese Under-17 international made his Arsenal debut as a substitute in Arsenal’s Carling Cup victory over Wigan. In January he joined Crystal Palace on-loan where he appeared five times.
After signing professional terms in 2007, Abu made more Reserve appearances than anyone in 2007/08. But his second-string chances were limited last season and he joined League Two Barnet on loan in November, 2008.
Paul signed professional terms in 2007 after impressing at right-back and centre-half. He made his first-team debut against Burnley in the Carling Cup in December before joining Northampton on loan in January. However, he suffered cruciate ligament damage before his return.
Rene joined Arsenal at the age of 13 and earned a professional contract in 2007 after impressing for the Reserves and Under-18s. In 2008/09 the left-back made four appearances for Neil Banfield’s Reserves before spending four months on loan at Gillingham.
Vincent van den Berg
Dutch U17 international Vincent joined Arsenal in 2006 and impressed as an attacking midfielder in the Reserves and Under-18s. He featured in Dennis Bergkamp’s testimonial before moving on-loan to Go Ahead Eagles in 2008. Vincent spent last season on loan at FC Zwolle.
Versatile defender Anton joined the Club from Northampton in 2007/08 and played mainly in defence for Steve Bould’s Under-18s. However he didn’t make an impact in the Reserve Team last season.
Danish youth international Jonas also departs after almost two years at the Club. The midfielder appeared regularly for the Under-18s last season but was unable to break into the Reserve side.