Academy

Seven academy players sign professional contracts

Pro contracts image
Pro contracts image

Seven of our academy players have signed new professional contracts at the club.

Brian Okonkwo

Brian

Goalkeeper Brian first appeared for Jack Wilshere’s under-18s team in the 2022/23 campaign. Last season, he made three appearances for the under-21s in Premier League 2 Division One, keeping a clean sheet in a 2-0 win away to Liverpool.

“It’s definitely a proud moment for me and my family," he described. "I’ve worked hard over the last few years to achieve this. It’s a step for me to keep pushing to new heights and get more successful moments like this in the future.

“It’s really satisfying. The club has trust in me, which is really important, helping me with my confidence. I’ve been here for nearly eight years so I’ve made a lot of relationships here and it’s one of the best clubs in the world."

Maldini Kacurri

Maldini

Defender Maldini featured 13 times for Jack Wilshere’s under-18s in the U18 Premier League last season and made the step up to the under-21s with four Premier League 2 Division One appearances.

He also played in the FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League and will be hoping for more minutes at Albania international youth level, having represented his country’s under-17s and under-19s outfits.

After putting pen to paper, Maldini said: “I’m very happy. This is something that I’ve been working towards my whole life. I feel very proud of myself, and my family are very proud of me, so all in all I’m very happy and can’t wait to keep going.

“Since the start I’ve felt very welcome. I settled in straight away and really enjoy it here. It’s a very nice club to be at. It’s good to pay off my family’s efforts a little bit, but of course there’s a lot more hard work that needs to be done.

“It wasn’t a difficult decision at all to commit my future here. It’s a great club, I’ve learned a lot here and I’ve improved so much. I can only see myself improve even more so it’s a no-brainer really."

Josh Nichols

Josh

A flying full-back who can operate on the right or the left, Josh made 31 appearances across our academy sides last season, including all six group games in the UEFA Youth League.

“It’s a dream come true," Josh said. "I’ve been working to get this pro contract ever since I was a little boy, so I’m really glad to sign. I’ve been a fan since I was a little boy and this is my boyhood club.

“Every kid wants to play for the first team, so I can use the coaches to develop myself into a better player and hopefully play for them."

Ismeal Kabia

Ismeal

Right winger Ismeal made the step up to our under-21s team last season, making 11 appearances in Premier League 2 Division One and appearing twice in the play-offs.

He also featured for Jack Wilshere’s under-18s side in the U18 Premier League and FA Youth Cup and represented us in Europe in the UEFA Youth League.

Following signing his contract, he said: “It’s been a long time coming and I’m very happy, having been at the club for a long time. I’m just proud that I’ve achieved this milestone.

“It was a very easy decision because I’ve been here for a while. Me and my family support Arsenal as well, so there wasn’t much of a discussion.

“The club has fed me a lot of good information, not only as a player but off the field as well to be respectful. The mentality that this club has has pushed me through life and football."

Sebastian Ferdinand

Seb

Right winger Sebastian made a total of 18 appearances across our academy sides last season, scoring twice in both the U18 Premier League and the Papa John’s Trophy.

Sebastian said: “I’m delighted. It’s a dream that a lot of young boys have, especially growing up around London. Arsenal is the biggest club in London, so it’s a day to celebrate, but not too much because I’m always thinking about what’s next.

“It feels brilliant. Every day we come in, work hard, sacrifice a lot and to finally get rewarded with a professional contract at such a prestigious club, words can’t really describe it.

“Look at what the first team are doing, pushing for titles and in the Champions League. It’s a place where I want to be and develop for the foreseeable future."

Harrison Dudziak

Harisson

An impressive playmaker in midfield, Harrison registered seven assists and scored twice in 18 appearances last season in the U18 Premier League.

He also featured six times for the under-21s in Premier League 2 and got minutes under his belt in the UEFA Youth League, FA Youth Cup and Papa John’s Trophy.

“I’m very pleased, very happy," Harrison said. "This is a massive achievement for me to sign for one of the biggest clubs in the world and I feel over the moon to be honest.

“I’ve become more confident and have more of a personality in me. I’ve developed as a human being, not just a footballer.

“Creating chances gets me in the team. I’d like to score more goals as well, but the assists are a strong area of my game that I want to improve on as well."

Osman Kamara

Osman

Left winger Osman had his best goalscoring season in 2023/24, netting nine times in 14 U18 Premier League appearances and getting two assists.

He also scored in Premier League 2 for our under-21s team and got minutes in the FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League.

“I feel really delighted to have my family watch me sign my first professional contract," a proud Osman revealed. "It’s been a lot of hard work throughout the years, but I’m happy that they can see that it’s paid off.

“It gives you that sense that, if you do work hard, things will be given to you. I’m going to keep doing the same in the future.

“It was an easy decision. The coaches and staff around here are very welcoming and bring out the best in me, so I’ll keep improving as a player and a person."

News

Watch our U21s in action against Boreham Wood

Nathan Butler-Oyedeji, Ismeal Kabia and Zane Monlouis in training

Get the first chance this season to watch our U21s in a friendly against Boreham Wood on Saturday, July 13.

Tickets are still available for the tie, which kicks off at the Mangata Pay UK Stadium at 3pm. 

This will be the first of six pre-season matches for Mehmet Ali's side as we gear up for the 2024/25 Premier League 2 season.

With several of our Gunners committing their futures to the club this summer, the fixture against the National League South outfit marks the perfect opportunity to catch our young pros in action. 

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