Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Hein’s arrival provides Arsenal’s young goalkeepers with more competition

Over the past couple of years Arsenal haven’t brought in many players at academy level, with the club instead preferring to develop the prospects already at their disposal.
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This year, however, Arsenal have already signed one talented youngster as they have secured a deal for 16-year-old goalkeeper Karl Jakob Hein.
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An Estonia U17 international, Hein impressed while on trial at Arsenal and elected to join the Gunners over Manchester United despite having also spent time at the latter’s Carrington training ground.
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Hein will initially join Arsenal on a scholarship contract before signing professional terms when he turns 17, but his arrival certainly raises questions about the future of some of the other young shot-stoppers that are on the books.
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As things stand Arsenal have three goalkeepers set to sign scholarship deals at the start of July, with Hein joined in that regard by Arthur Okonkwo and Tom Smith, both of whom have developed at the club’s Hale End academy.
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There has, though, been speculation for over a month that Okonkwo, who has trained with the first-team despite still being a schoolboy, could elect to leave Arsenal this summer in the hope of receiving more opportunities elsewhere.
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Losing Okonkwo, who possesses excellent reflexes, would represent a significant blow for Arsenal, but Hein has vast potential and will be looking to progress through the ranks very quickly.
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Arsenal have a host of young goalkeepers at present, with Matt Macey, Deyan Iliev, Hugo Keto, Ryan Huddart, Joao Virginia and Daniel Barden having all been involved with the U23 squad in some capacity this season.
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With Emiliano Martinez also set to return from his frustrating loan spell at Getafe, it seems clear that there will have to be some departures in the goalkeeping department this summer in order to allow others to progress.
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Huddart, whose game time at U23 level last season was very limited, seems likely to depart, while, in addition to Okonkwo, another of those listed above could well move on, or at least be loaned out.
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Hein will look to gain as much experience as possible at U18 level next season and, presuming Okonkwo does depart, fend off competition from the likes of Barden and Smith to establish himself as the first-choice in that age group.
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It certainly seems set to be an interesting season as Arsenal’s young goalkeepers compete in their quest to make the grade

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