It is a well-known fable in football that in 2003 Arsene Wenger decided against snapping up a then 19-year-old Yaya Toure. We of course know a little different now. That despite being impressed by the player, who even featured in a trial game against Barnet, problems with the Ivorian’s work permit saw him become impatient with the process and he instead opted to move to Ukrainian outfit Metalurh Donetsk.
Wenger spoke of this in 2011:
"He had no work permit and was too young. We tried to wait until when he was in Belgium, we tried to get him a European passport. He was not patient enough and left for Metalurh Donetsk.’’
The rest we know is history; now a Manchester City stalwart the dynamic star has got to where he is via successful stints with Olympiakos, Monaco and most famously Barcelona.
Wenger knows what it feels like to lose a player with the attributes of a Yaya Toure at the age of 19; now it may be he has another such talent on his hands.
Many an avid Arsenal fan will also be keen followers of the youth team and know there is as ever a plethora of young talent available at The Emirates Stadium while others are sent out on loan to gain first team football.
One such player has been Chuks Aneke and he really is a potential first-teamer next season.
Aneke joined the North London outfit when he was just seven years old and during his time at The Gunners he has represented England at every age level up to under-19.
In 2009 he was wanted by Barcelona but instead signed a professional contract with the club and after loan spells at Stevenage and Preston this season he has truly come to the fore at Crewe Alexandra.
Things did not start smoothly for the midfielder; he was sent off on just his second appearance for the club. Since then however he has managed to score five goals and create six assists in his 35 games for The Railwaymen and has been an integral part of the first team this season in what has been a solid return to League One football.
While in recent weeks he has been used sparingly as a long season takes its toll on his young legs his performances would certainly have caught the eye of Wenger and his coaching staff; meaning Aneke may just be one of the breakthrough players next season.
With Abou Diaby injured yet again and Tomas Rosicky expected to be sold there is a gap in the central midfield position and given the similarities to Yaya Toure there is little doubt he won’t be on the radar of Wenger.
Wenger himself gave the 6ft 3ins midfield dynamo the Toure tag in 2011:
“Chuks is a bit like Yaya Toure – he has body power and good technique. We had Yaya here and for me Chuks is a bit similar because he can play behind the striker or in a deeper role as well. We will have to see where he will develop; it is not excluded that in the future he will play deeper in midfield.”
After a year of mixing it with the big boys at League One level do not be surprised to see a lot of Aneke in Arsenal’s pre-season campaign; and potentially in the first team very soon.
Do you think Aneke has a future in the Arsenal first-team?
image: © marc_tacoma