Ranked! Arsenal’s 10 best academy graduates of the last 25 years
Also in this series...
- Tottenham's 11 best academy graduates
- Liverpool’s 7 best academy graduates
- Man United's 15 best academy graduates
10. Kieran Gibbs
He may have been sold to West Brom this summer, but for 10 years the academy graduate was a fixture in Arsenal's first-team squad.
Gibbs first caught the eye in 2007's Emirates Cup. He was handed his first senior start for the friendly against Inter, and shone as a left-winger. By the time the 2008/09 season came around, the teenager was getting regular first-team outings, this time as a left-back. When Gael Clichy was sold to Manchester City in 2011, Gibbs was anointed as his successor.
Ultimately, his development stalled as he arrived at his mid-20s. The arrival of Nacho Monreal relegated Gibbs to the bench, and he arguably should have left Arsenal a year or two earlier to pursue first-team football.
9. Francis Coquelin
Coquelin's story is one to inspire any academy player. It’s a tale of persistence in the face of adversity: while many of the names featured in this list made the breakthrough in their teens, Coquelin was 23 when he finally established himself as a first-team player.
Although Arsene Wenger always admired Coquelin’s talent, he couldn't find a regular place for the midfielder in his squad. The Frenchman had loan spells with Lorient, Freiburg and Charlton before an injury crisis at Arsenal in December 2014 prompted Wenger to recall him to the senior set-up.
Coquelin seized his chance, immediately establishing an unlikely partnership with Santi Cazorla that would become the hub of Arsenal's team for the next two years.
8. Oguzhan Ozyakup
It’s not always possible for Arsenal’s academy products to force their way into the first team at the Emirates Stadium. Sometimes they need to move away from north London to fulfil their potential.
So it proved with Ozyakup, who made just two senior appearances before being sold to Besiktas. The playmaker has subsequently led his team to two consecutive Super Lig titles, and is a regular international with 30 Turkey caps to his name.
7. Alex Iwobi
Nigerian midfielder Iwobi is one of the Arsenal academy’s more recent graduates, and the early evidence suggests he could prove to be one of the more successful.
Iwobi is, in many respects, an archetypal Wenger player. He’s enormously gifted technically, and very easy on the eye. He looks every inch a player reared on ‘Wenger-ball’.
The challenge now is for Iwobi to begin to converting his potential into tangible results. As an attacking midfielder, his contribution will ultimately be measured in goals and assists.