In the modern era of the game a club's academy isn't necessarily the most pivotal means to an immediate progression in stature, because as it's widely known money usually opens the door for quickfire resolutions. Although as far as contingency goes, it offers a rich haven for hungry, aspiring youth prospects to prove their worth to their expectant parent employers.

It's never easy for a fledgling starlet to make a name for themselves in the lunacy the Premier League possesses, however at Arsenal in particular, the north-Londoners have seen the likes of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson graduate seamlessly into the club's regular match-day fold.

But evidently, as Arsene Wenger portrays in an interview to BT Sport (via Mirror), it's not always as straight forward for other hopeful candidates to make the "difficult" step-up to life as a recognised first-team member.


Many clubs are criticised for their respective youth systems, especially in the top-flight, where an endless conveyor belt of homegrown talent is often tossed carelessly onto the surplus pile without so much of a second glance. At the Gunners there's a specific three-step process to adhere to, ranging from "recruitment", "quality of education" at their London Colney-based training facility and most importantly, and finally "integration" into the senior set-up from the development squads.

Although it appears to be clearly mapped-out and attainable, 'Le Prof' insists that the "final part is the most difficult these days and it always goes through me." Wenger is a highly-respected tactician in the footballing world with a shrewd, fine-tuned eye for a player's underlying potential and the longstanding Arsenal commander continued to state that "In the end I will decide yes, he has a chance.

Or yes, he might not make it." - discovering renowned names such as Jack Wilshere, Alex Iwobi and Francesc Fabregas most notably in the past is a telling measure of his astute judgement, and if that's the lofty benchmark a youngster has to meet or better, they've certainly got a daunting task on their juvenile hands to contend with.

Adaptable Conundrum

Casting attention back towards Maitland-Niles in particular, it's spurring to witness a young Englishmen donning the Gunners' colours so often, but there's a conundrum afoot. The 20-year-old has exemplified his versatility this term, but if anything is certain in the game, a player has to understand their primary role in the squad, and it's evident that the robust 'Young Lions' member has an array of qualities at his disposal.

A defensive-midfielder on paper, Maitland-Niles is also capable of deputising on the right flank as either a winger or full-back - his offensive attributes are seemingly just as equally efficient as his defensive dynamism, but sooner or later Wenger is going to have to elect a position for the flourishing Englishman if the adaptable utility option is indeed unsure himself.

Or, ultimately, risk becoming a wasted figure at the Emirates all together, much like Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was during his broken stint at the club after failing to successfully establish himself under his former manager's command.