Mikel Arteta is still learning as a Premier League boss, but giving minutes to young players is one area where he has earned pretty consistent praise.
The likes of Bukayo Saka, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah have played first-team football under Arteta, giving hope to many young players further down the ranks.
Arsenal have let some real talent go over the past 10 years or so, and some fans may be cursing that some of those players didn’t emerge under Arteta.
Here are five players Arsenal may regret letting go early into their careers…
The biggest case is that of Gnabry. The 25-year-old joined Arsenal from Stuttgart in 2011, but made just 18 first-team appearances before being sold to Werder Bremen for just £4.5million. Now a Champions League winner with Bayern Munich, Gnabry is one of the most dangerous wingers in the world and smashed 23 goals last season. Oh how Mikel Arteta wishes he had a player like Gnabry right now.
In 2017, Arsenal allowed Donyell Malen to join PSV Eindhoven for only £500,000, having landed him from Ajax just two years earlier. Malen never played for Arsenal’s first team, but is now a star at PSV. He scored 17 times last season and now has three goals in six Eredivisie games this term. The 21-year-old is now fulfilling his potential, and with Alexandre Lacazette’s future unclear, don’t be surprised to see Arsenal go back in for Malen in the future.
The case of Bennacer is similar to Malen; he also arrived in 2015, and was also sold in 2017. Plucked from hometown club Arles, Bennacer made just one first-team appearance for Arsenal before being sold to Empoli for a paltry £900,000. The Algerian is now starring for AC Milan in Italy, and Foot Mercato reported over the summer that PSG and Manchester City want the midfielder, who is now valued at around €50million (£45million) – 50 times what Arsenal sold him for three years ago.
Dasilva, 22, joined Arsenal at the age of just eight, playing more as an attacking player before eventually becoming a box-to-box midfielder. He turned down a new deal in the summer of 2018, and joined Championship club Brentford on a free transfer. Now an England Under-21 international, Dasilva is one of the Championship’s top midfielders, possessing outstanding dribbling ability and the athletic capability to get up and down the pitch whilst causing problems drifting into half-spaces. He looks to have a huge future as a Premier League player, and Arsenal are seeing him thrive having lost him for nothing.
Eze may have made his name at Queens Park Rangers, but he actually started his career at Arsenal before being released at the age of just 13. The 22-year-old has now become a Premier League player with Crystal Palace for a fee of around £16million, and has dazzled as a skilful and creative playmaker. Given how Arsenal are lacking creativity right now, maybe Eze could have made an impact in this team – but he maybe needed his Arsenal exit in order to move forward as a player.