'He's sensational' - Arsenal wonderkid Patino has become an instant hero at Blackpool
Had he stayed with Arsenal this season, Charlie Patino would have been looking at Thursday night’s Europa League clash at PSV as an opportunity to get a handful of minutes.
The teenage midfielder shot to prominence last year when he scored on his senior Gunners debut in a Carabao Cup win against Sunderland at Emirates Stadium in December.
It looked like being the moment a new star was born, but Patino would only go on to make one more senior appearance in the months that followed, starting the FA Cup defeat at Nottingham Forest in January.
The remainder of the season was a frustrating time for Patino, who ran into some injury problems. He did make the first-team bench a few times towards the end of the campaign, but the only game time he got was with the Under-23s.
So the 2022-23 season was always going to be hugely important for the Hale End academy graduate’s continued development.
Initially, the plan was for him to stay at Arsenal; to play with the youth teams, but also look to get some minutes with the senior side, particularly during the Europa League group stage.
However, as the transfer window drew to a close, there was a sudden change of plan. Patino wanted to go out on loan and Arsenal agreed, sending the midfielder to Championship side Blackpool.
Three months on and that gamble is paying off for all parties. Indeed, to say Patino has made an impact at Blackpool would be an understatement.
Good morning Seasiders! 🤫#UTMP 🍊@BlackpoolFC pic.twitter.com/LeqLYNxR7y— Charlie Patino (@CharliePatino10) October 23, 2022
In just 12 games, the 19-year-old has made himself the new darling of Bloomfield Road, with his new chant becoming a bit of a phenomenon – and not just amongst the Blackpool fans, but across the whole of social media.
"It's been a brilliant start," Matt Scrafton of the Blackpool Gazette tells GOAL. "I don’t think Charlie could have dreamt that it would have gone much better.”
Patino had already made himself a favourite with the Blackpool fans prior to last weekend’s Lancashire derby against Preston.
However, a goal, an assist and a man of the match award in a 4-2 win ensured the on loan Arsenal starlet will forever be remembered as a Seasiders hero, no matter what he goes on to achieve during the remainder of his stay with the Championship club.
“He’s sensational,” Patino’s Blackpool team-mate Jerry Yates said after the game. “He deserves all the credit.
“He’s only young, but the way he has taken to the Championship is unbelievable. He’ll be a top, top player.”
Patino’s talent has never been in doubt, of course. He's always been highly-rated, with the scout who first brought him to Arsenal from Luton describing him as "the best kid I’ve ever seen".
But what has perhaps been called into question of late is whether he has the physicality to deal with the demands of senior football.
Some suggested he was too small, too slight of frame.
Those are questions, however, that Patino is now swiftly silencing with the way he has adapted to the infamously physical Championship.
“He’s by far and away the best player in the squad in terms of natural ability,” Scrafton said. “But what’s impressed me the most is that he does have that other side to him.
“When he started here, he was just 18. He’s not really muscly, tall or big, but he can stand up to things physically.
“He would have never experienced anything like the derby on Saturday before. It was a proper battle and he was really impressive.”
Patino really does deserve the plaudits he's receiving right now. He made this move happen.
He wanted more than the odd appearance in the Europa League this season. He was determined to test himself week in, week out in senior games that really mattered.
And he is doing just that, shining in Blackpool’s midfield, whether it be as a more advanced No.8, or in the slightly deeper No.6 role that he starred in against Preston at the weekend.
“The decision to come and play in the Championship was a no-brainer for me,” he said at the weekend.
“Coming to play for three points, coming to play with experienced players, players who are older than me, faster, stronger.
“Being able to adapt is ultimately what I needed. It’s a step in the right direction.”
Arsenal are understandably delighted with the progress Patino has made so far during his time with Blackpool.
The best Football chant of all time. 🍊🎶 pic.twitter.com/6wtPr0kLGk— Footy Limbs (@FootyLimbs) October 25, 2022
Ken Gillard, who works with Arsenal loans manager Ben Knapper, went to watch him in action earlier this month and was enthused by what he saw.
Of course, the one downside is that Patino is now attracting attention from top clubs from across England and overseas.
His current contract expires next summer and while Arsenal do have an option to extend that deal by a further two years, it has to be triggered by a certain date before the end of 2022.
As it stands, talks over a new deal – one that would see Patino rewarded for his progress since he signed his first professional contract as a 17-year-old in October 2020 – have yet to begin.
Whether Arsenal will look to initiate those discussions given his performances and the widespread attention he is receiving remains to be seen, but rival clubs continue to monitor developments closely while the situation remains unresolved.
For Patino, however, the priority is to just keep performing for Blackpool.
The teenager has already made himself a hero with the Seasiders. Now it’s about maintaining that level of performance throughout the season.
And, given the ease in which he has adapted to life in the Championship so far, that should not be a problem.