Arsenal has always been a club that pride itself in giving opportunities to young players to break into the first team. This has been done regularly since Arsene Wenger took over the reigns at the club. The likes of Cesc Fabregas, Jack Wilshere, Gedion Zelalem, Keiran Gibbs, Gael Clichy, Johan Djourou, Ashley Cole are a host of players who made their first team debuts at a tender age for Arsenal. As wells as others.
That conveyor belt of bringing through young players, either through the academy or through then being bought from other academies have continued over the years, particularly with an emphasis on young British talents.
So, it came as no surprise, when it was reported that Arsenal have captured 16 year old West Ham player Ben Sheaf. The midfielder turned down a new contract from the Upton Park club to sign a contract with Arsenal.
Without doubt, part of the philosophy of the club has always been to bring through these young players. It gives a brighter future to the playing side of the club. Although, not all players at youth level turns out to be a good a player, a few do turn out to be decent players making a mark for themselves. Where it gets to a situation were the players cannot make it, the club can cut it losses by releasing them. But there have been instances where some of these players who are decent enough to be bought by other clubs, clauses have been inserted in their contracts which would bring financial advantage to the club in the event of a sell on. Ditto Jay Emmanuel Thomas, who had a clause inserted in his contract when he moved to Ipswich Town. And David Bentley on his move to Blackburn.
However, it is always important for the club to safeguard it future, but, not always at the expense of the present. The move to the Emirates in 2006 from Highbury, Arsene Wenger shifted his focus to youth, neglecting calls for valuable experience to be added to the squad. But a partial failure of the youth project had elicited the pursuit of experienced campaigners like Per Mertesacker, Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla, and even Nacho Monreal. This has no doubt steadied the ship at the Emirates. As a mixture of youth and experience has become the focus of the club.
Without doubt, the club will sign young players the like of Ben Sheaf every now and then, but bringing in experience players that will bring immediate success to the club, will only aid the seamless transition of young players into the first team squad in an admittedly less pressurized environment.