Where are they now? The last 10 Arsenal starlets Wenger gave debuts


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Some special players came up through Arsenal‘s academy during Arsene Wenger‘s 22-year stint as manager, from Cesc Fabregas to Jack Wilshere to Hector Bellerin.

But what about in the latter days of his reign as Gunners boss? The Frenchman’s successor Unai Emery inherited some exceptional players like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Aaron Ramsey, but what about the next crop of academy graduates?

Here are the last 10 players handed their senior debuts by Arsene Wenger, and how they’ve fared since.

Ben Sheaf

The Dartford-born midfielder, nabbed as a teenager from West Ham’s academy, made his debut as an 89th-minute substitute for Francis Coquelin in a 1–0 Europa League victory over Red Star Belgrade back in October 2017.

Shortly after, he made another late cameo in a 1-0 League Cup win over West Ham, but he hasn’t made another first-team appearance since despite still being on the Gunners books.

Loans at Stevenage and Doncaster followed, and he’s spending the 2020-21 campaign at Coventry City, newly-promoted to the Championship.

Marcus McGuane

It’s been an interesting career path for Greenwich-born Marcus McGuane, who spent some of his teenage years at Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy after leaving Hale End.

During his final season in charge, Wenger had given him a couple of opportunities in the Europa League before he made the switch to Barcelona as an 18-year-old in January 2018.

He made 24 appearances for their B Team but never broke through for the senior side and returned to England earlier in 2020, signing for Nottingham Forest. He’s currently on loan at League One side Oxford United.

🎥 Marcus McGuane, the first English Barça player since @GaryLineker lets us know how it feels #SuperCopaCAT pic.twitter.com/p4HlAaEqXD

— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) March 8, 2018

Joe Willock

Making his first appearance for his boyhood Gunners back in September 2017, a late substitute in a 1-0 League Cup win over Doncaster, plenty more appearances have followed.

Unlike many of his contemporaries sent out on various loans, Willock’s development has been tracked in-house, and he’s made over 60 appearances for the club. He’s on the fringes of Mikel Arteta’s squad but firmly established in the first-team picture.

Josh Dasilva

Ilford’s very own Dasilva has had to forge his path away from the club he’d been at since the age of eight, making just three League Cup appearances for the first team in 2017-18.

He’s become a key player for Brentford since joining on a free transfer in the summer of 2018 and recently signed a new deal to keep him at the club until 2024.

Don’t be surprised to see him running the midfield for Thomas Frank’s Bees in the Premier League in the coming years – he’s still just 21 and there looks plenty more to come.

Eddie Nketiah

One of the bright lights of Hale End, Eddie Nketiah has been tearing it up for England’s Young Lions for years, and now at the age of 21 is getting regular chances under Arteta.

He spent the first half of the 2019-20 campaign on loan at Leeds United. While it was cut short after failing to break into Marcelo Bielsa’s favoured starting XI, he left an impression at the West Yorkshire club and scored some vital goals from the bench.

Having joined Arsenal’s academy after being released by Chelsea, it all started for him back in September 2017 when he was handed his debut against BATE Borisov after impressing in pre-season.

READ: Eddie Nketiah is so scary in front of goal he turned a keeper into a ghost

Reiss Nelson

Like several of his academy team-mates, Nelson got his first shot at Arsenal in September as Wenger looked to navigate a busy fixture list with League Cup and Europa League outings.

Making his debut in the 2017 Community Shield win over Chelsea, 39 further appearances have followed for Arsenal, alongside 29 under Julian Nagelsmann on loan at Hoffenheim in 2018-19.

“He has great potential to develop,” said the highly-respected young German coach at the time, via The Independent.

“That’s why we loaned him in the first place. He’s an incredible player in one-on-one situations.”

Chris Willock

The older brother of Joe got his break a little earlier, making two brief League Cup substitute appearances in the Autumn of 2016.

A move to Benfica following in the summer of 2017, but he only turned out for the Portuguese giants’ B team before returning to England for loans with West Brom and Huddersfield, impressing at the latter especially. He’s now back in London, having signed for QPR on a permanent basis for a £750,000 fee.

Alex Iwobi

Born in Lagos, raised in London, and with Arsenal since he was at primary school, there was early hope and promise that Iwobi could become Theo Walcott’s successor at the Emirates.

Over two years after first being named on the bench for Arsenal, a 19-year-old Iwobi made his debut in a League Cup penalty shootout victory West Bromwich Albion in September 2015.

A total of 149 appearances (100 in the Premier League) and 15 goals would follow before a lucrative £28million transfer to Everton last summer.

Glen Kamara

Finland international midfielder Glen Kamara made one solitary appearance for the Gunners, with his senior debut coming in an inauspicious 3-0 League Cup defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in 2015.

Loans to Southend and Colchester followed before he was released in 2017. He’s since made a name for himself up in Scotland, impressing at Dundee and becoming a regular under Steven Gerrard at Rangers.

READ: Where are they now? Every player to play once for Arsenal under Wenger

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Five years before earning his first England cap, Ainsley Maitland-Niles made his Arsenal bow against Galatasaray in 2014, becoming their second-youngest player to feature in the Champions League.

He’s now firmly established as part of Arteta’s team, having made over a hundred appearances for his boyhood club.

More Arsenal

Ranking Arsenal’s past 10 summer transfer windows from worst to best

Can you name every £10m+ player signed by Arsene Wenger at Arsenal?

The story of the player not equipped for the EFL despite 14 years at Arsenal

Seven of Arsene Wenger’s most forgettable signings at Arsenal





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