Over the years the Arsenal academy has delivered some great players. Ashley Cole, Jack Wilshere, Wojciech Szczęsny, Tony Adams to name but a few.
Oddly though the academy hasn’t delivered many great strikers. If you think of the cream of Arsenal’s forward talent – Ian Wright, Thierry Henry, Robin Van Persie – they have all been bought from other clubs in their early to mid twenties.
Might that be about to change though with the massively exciting prospect that is Chuba Akpom. The 17 year old from East London signed professional terms with Arsenal at the end of last year a reward for some superb perfomances for the Gunners’ academy team.
And it isn’t just Arsenal fans who have noticed what potential they player has. Check out the video of Akpom scoring twice for England’s under 19s this week against Denmark. In the first time he was in the right place at the right time to punish a defensive error. For the second, his pace left the defender for dead creating an opportunity that he took superbly.
Arsene Wenger is obviously a massive fan of the player, he told the club’s offcial website in December after putting the striker on the bench for the Champions League trip to Olympiacos.
“He has personality [and] he has quality. I wanted him to be with the first team, taste what it is [to be involved] in a Champions League game, and hopefully he will join us very quickly. It could happen very soon.
“He’s more a guy who likes to participate in the build up, a guy who is brave, a guy who makes good runs and is not a typical goal chaser.
“Where he must improve is to finish things off. But he creates for others, he creates for himself, and just needs to be a bit calmer for the finishing. That’s something he will get easily.”
Akpom is still very much a raw talent, but his power and physical presence along with awareness of those who play upfront with him mark his as a bit special.
What Giroud doesn’t offer at the moment is what RVP had in spades – an awareness of the the right place to be in the box and a foot or two that are clinical when they get the chance.
These are qualities that given time we might come to associate with the youngster. The key though is that he gets his chance. It would be a gamble to push Akpom into the first team squad when he is barely seventeen. But I think he may have the raw talent to succeed and play a role in Arsenal’s push for Champions League Qualification. Who knows maybe current apparent Wenger’s keenness for Villa and older more experienced strikers is also because they can help develop Akpom to become an Arsenal great.