‘As good as anyone in country’ – Arsenal wonderkids ready to save new boss cash

Big things are happening at Arsenal this summer – the first in 22 years without Arsene Wenger at the helm.

Manchester City assistant and former Gunners captain Mikel Arteta has become the overwhelming favourite to take over from the Frenchman.

And if it is the Spaniard he’ll have to revamp a squad on a budget with no Champions League football next year.

With that in mind he may need a little help from the youth team.

Here Football.London look at some of the young guns who could step up and really make Arteta’s job a lot easier.

The goalscorer – Eddie Nketiah

In Nketiah, Arsenal have one of the most exciting young striking prospects in the country.

The prolific forward signed in 2015 having been released by Chelsea and has enjoyed a remarkable couple of seasons in north London.

He ended the 2016/17 campaign with 24 goals in 22 starts across both the Under-18 and U23 age groups at the club.

He’s netted two hat-tricks at club level last year – as well as bagging a treble for England U18s against Qatar.

And Nketiah’s goalscoring exploits show no sign of slowing down.

The 18-year-old has scored 12 goals in 13 games for the U23s this season as they won the Premier League 2 title and also scored twice for the senior side in the 2-1 League Cup victory against Norwich City,

The frontman scored a hat-trick against Everton in February, his fourth Arsenal treble since the start of last season.

The hidden No10 – Reiss Nelson

The attacking midfielder made a major breakthrough during the past season, featuring 16 times in all competitions for the senior side.

Nelson played a starring role during the summer tour of Australia and then wowed the Arsenal crowd with a stunning performance against Benfica on the first day of the Emirates Cup.

Nelson has long been viewed as the young player who is closest to forcing his way into the Arsenal first-team and has shown flashes of his undoubted quality when given a chance this season.

Most of his performances have come at right wing-back, however, with the player having admitted he sees himself as a No.10.

One concern for Arsenal is that he now has just 12 months left on his contract and has yet to sign a new deal, although he stated in April that he was close to putting pen to paper.

The converted defender – Ben Sheaf

There is genuine excitement around Arsenal at the development of Sheaf during the past year.

He arrived from West Ham in 2014 as a central midfielder but last season he really started to flourish having been moved back into central defence.

Sheaf made his senior debut earlier this season during the Europa League against Red Star Belgrade and also came off the bench at the Emirates against West Ham in the League Cup quarter-final.

The 20-year-old joined Stevenage on loan in January and spent the end of the season with the League One club.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Whilst many were expecting Reiss Nelson to be the youngster who really made the step up this season, Ainsley Maitland-Niles has in fact been the player who has forced his way into the first-team picture.

What is even more surprising, however, is that he initially did at left-back, rather than his preferred position in central midfield.

Maitland-Niles impressed massively when filling in for Nacho Monreal during the first half of the season, just as he did when asked to a job at right-back.

He did get opportunities to play in his favoured central midfield role from time to time and was named man of the match against Manchester United.

As good as anyone – Emile Smith-Rowe

In Emile Smith-Rowe, Arsenal have an attacking midfielder who looks as good as any young player in the country.

The 17-year-old was moved into a central position at the start of the 2017/18 season having previously been a winger and he has played a starring role throughout the campaign.

Just a look at the individual run he set off on to win the penalty during the 5-0 win against Blackpool in the FA Youth Cup semi-final second leg is enough to see the thrilling talent Smith-Rowe possess.

As was the fabulous free-kick he scored during the quarter-final success at Colchester.

Smith-Rowe, who was part of England’s Under-17s World Cup winning squad in 2017, joined Arsenal in 2010 and made his debut for the U23s at the age of just 16.

The pace-master – Xavier Amaechi

There is genuine excitement from those behind the scenes at Arsenal about the 17-year-old winger, who has been with the club since August, 2013.

Amaechi possess rapid pace and was handed his first professional contract in January on the day he turned 17.

He played a starring role in the Under-18s run to the FA Youth Cup final, scoring in the first leg of the semi-final against Blackpool.

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