Arteta warns fans Arsenal project will 'take some time'
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Arsenal are facing a crucial period after the international break, with Mikel Arteta under pressure to turn things around following a disastrous start to the season. The Gunners have begun their Premier League campaign with three straight defeats and already need to rebuild, starting against Norwich on Saturday.
One of the club’s many problems stems from a lack of creativity: Arsenal are one of two teams in the top flight yet to have found the back of the net.
Arteta could justifiably point to the availability of key players due to injuries and coronavirus, but the problems undoubtedly run deeper than that.
Arsenal have been searching for a reliable creator since Mesut Ozil’s form dipped several seasons ago.
And while they have signed Martin Odegaard on a £34million deal from Real Madrid and Emile Smith Rowe has shown lots of promise, their issues are far from solved.
An Ozil, Cesc Fabregas, Jack Wilshere or Santi Cazorla figure is sorely lacking in a side which has appeared disjointed and listless in the Premier League this season.
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That could yet all change. It is early days after all. But Arteta should definitely be looking at all the options he has at his disposal to ease his worries.
One of those is not particularly obvious, but could still prove to be the answer in the long run.
Charlie Patino is not a well-known name yet, but he will be soon enough – and he is very much on Arteta’s radar.
Patino, a 17-year-old central midfielder, has been playing for Arsenal’s Under-21s and Under-23s, but has been impressing Arteta in first-team training recently, according to football.london.
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And, having caught the eye as captain in the Under-21s’ 2-1 defeat by Swindon Town on Tuesday, he could be in contention to be named in the squad for the first-team’s League Cup tie against AFC Wimbledon on September 22.
That should be an exciting prospect for Arsenal fans, who have been crying out for some youngsters beside Smith Rowe to throw their weight behind.
Patino is widely considered to be the brightest talent in the Gunners’ academy set-up at Hale End at the moment.
Brian Stapleton, the Arsenal scout who first spotted Patino while he was playing for Luton Town, is full of praise for the left-footer.
“Of all the years I’ve been scouting, he’s the best kid I’ve ever seen,” Stapleton told Goal recently.
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“His first touch was unbelievable, his vision, his awareness of space. He was way above his years, he was on another planet to anyone else on the pitch.”
Sean O’Connor, one of the key figures in Arsenal’s academy, has an even bigger claim.
“Sean O’Connor discovered Jack Wilshere and he said to me that Charlie is the best player who has ever walked through the doors at Hale End,” Stapleton added.
“The kid has got so much potential, but he’s not there yet.”
Arsenal saw off interest from the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham to sign Patino from Luton in 2015 and they are not the only clubs who noticed him.
Patino’s father is from Spain, meaning the young midfielder qualifies for the country, and Goal says Barcelona were previously keeping an eye on his development.
The 17-year-old grew up idolising Andres Iniesta, as well as Arsenal favourites Cazorla and Fabregas and even Arteta himself.
Those are not bad influences to have and if Patino continues on his current path it is possible he will be following in their footsteps at Arsenal.
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