Folarin Balogun and Charlie Patino expose the tough times facing Arsenal's next Hale End stars
The conveyor belt of talent that has come through from Arsenal’s Hale End academy to the first team has been the one shining light amid some dark times at the club in recent years. With the Gunners hurtling towards rock bottom just a few years ago, teenage talents Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe were thrown into the mix and helped spark a revival that now sees the north London club competing for the Premier League title.
Saka and Smith Rowe aren’t alone when it comes to academy boys making an impact with the senior side during what has been a period of huge change at Arsenal. Eddie Nketiah has made his mark and continues to be a key part of Mikel Arteta’s squad. There was Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who was an integral part of the team that won the FA Cup in 2019, and the likes of Joe Willock and Alex Iwobi have had their moments, before being sold for big money.
The pathway through from Hale End has been essential to the Arsenal rebuild, and the success story that the academy has enjoyed is something which the club and its supporters around the world are rightly proud of.
But times are changing at Arsenal. The revolution under Arteta has seen standards rise across the board and next season, for the first time since 2017, Arsenal will be back dining at the top table of European football in the Champions League.