Andries Jonker joined Arsenal in July after replacing Liam Brady as Head of the Youth academy and he has wasted no time in assessing the situation at the club and confirmed this week that a “complete overhaul” of the scouting department is needed.
In recent years the academy have neglected to produce first team players of the quality that they used to, in fact Kieran Gibbs was the last player promoted from youth to play regularly in the first team.
Speaking to Voetbal International Jonker discussed the big need for change;
‘The scouting must be restructured all over again. It needs to be brought to a level so that we can bring in the absolute best talents from abroad and from England at an age that Wenger can immediately work with them.
‘My chief scout at the academy, Steve Morrow, came and asked me what kind of players I wanted him to look for. So I said, the best player I have worked on, Xavi.
Almost every day Wenger and I go through a number of things. He is approachable, but I do have to show him what we are doing. We must not go behind his back. It is important that Wenger and I work closely together.
What I do see is that everybody at the club has the feeling that they need to have the green light from Wenger before they do anything. But maybe that is not the case.’
Jonker seems quite willing to find the very best players for Arsenal and that is something we have lacked, especially after the departure of our best players. He seems to disregard the amount amount of control Wenger is rumoured to have at the club. He seems to getting permission to do things isn’t something he is willing to do and will go ahead with his plan of action for the club regardless but will always inform Wenger of his plans. If the rumours of Wenger being a dictator are true then we need someone like Jonker to stand up to him especially if he is right in his assessment.
For a big part of our history we have thrived a on a great youth set up, it was the perfect way for the club to enhance their home grown talent philosophy and it saved us a lot of money when it came to buying players. Even when Wenger joined the club it was clear that he supported this philosophy and over the years he helped develop and improve that side of the club as well as the first team.
We have gone from having a solid youth system to falling behind and this is not good for a top 4 side who prefer not to spend a huge amount of money in the transfer window. We have built a strong English core in the first team but this will need to be supported in years to come, especially with the focus on the National team improvement on all age levels.
Andries Jonker has a really tough job ahead of him but he is more than qualified to succeed in his mission. He has worked with the very best players in the world and was involved with the recent German World Cup winning team. If anyone can improve the way our youth academy is currently running it is him.
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