Chuba Akpom says spending time with the senior players during the Asia Tour has given him extra motivation for the coming season - and has helped to develop his game too.
The 17-year-old striker has excelled during the three friendlies so far, scoring against the Indonesia Dream Team on his first-ever outing for the first team, then grabbing two more against Vietnam three days later.
Now the Newham-born youngster has set his sights on more first-team outings when the new season gets underway against Aston Villa on August 17.
"Everyone is really nice to us younger players. They are really funny actually, especially Lukas [Podolski], he likes to bring everyone together and there is a lot of banter"
"It's been great, I've never experienced anything like this before," Akpom said.
"We all mix as a squad. Everyone is really nice to us younger players. They are really funny actually, especially Lukas [Podolski], he likes to bring everyone together and there is a lot of banter.
"Everyone mixes together, and the first-team players and youth players are all mixed at the signing sessions and other events anyway. That makes the football easier because you are already familiar with the first-team players when you go into the games, so there are no nerves."
Akpom has been at the Club since the age of seven, and scored 18 times for Arsenal youth teams last term. But he says the past couple of weeks have increased his desire to take a step up this season.
"The tour has really motivated me, when you see the reception the team gets here," he said. "Experience-wise it's been great too because I have been playing against national teams.
"That's a big change from the teams I normally play against. I'm enjoying it and soaking up the whole experience. It's really good and I hope I'm involved next year as well."
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