The next big things and the players to look for
The ability to consistently find relatively unknown young players and develop them into household names is a skill few managers master. Arsène Wenger is one of the best, but far from scouring the corners of the earth for his latest project, the Arsenal boss has instead moved across London, to snap up teenager Carl Jenkinson.
The 19-year-old right back has finally had his switch to Arsenal confirmed, but it's the business that Wenger's title rivals are doing that is getting the biggest attention. Jenkinson may not have the profile or price tag of the likes of Jordan Henderson or Phil Jones, but the prospect - who has played for his mother's native Finland at under-19 and under-21 level - is just the type of player Arsenal need.
Jenkinson is a product of Charlton Athletic's respected academy system, yet unlike Jonjo Shelvey and many others, his route to the Addicks first-team came the hard way, with 'work experience' loan spells to non-league outfits Welling and Eastbourne Borough.
He was finally given his opportunity, and in just nine first team appearances he had shown enough to be watched by the likes of Fulham, West Ham and Arsenal. Carl and his whole family support the Gunners, and after hearing of their interest, he turned down a contract extension and talks with Arsenal soon began.
A compensation fee believed to be around £1 million is expected to change hands, a drop in the ocean when compared to the aforementioned Henderson and Jones transfers, yet it could prove to be excellent business.
Jenkinson may be a right back by trade, but he can play across the back four, as well as in midfield. Those are all positions Wenger arguably needs back up, and Carl boasts a physique and character many claim Arsenal players lack.
The Harlow-born defender stands at over six foot, is strong, powerful, tenacious and determined - but on top of that, he also boasts a more elegant side. He is capable of delivering accurate free-kicks and crosses, and favours playing the ball out from the back, rather than opting for a longer pass upfield. He may lack experience and be a little tactically naïve, but four seasons at Arsenal's London Colney facility could well be enough to sharpen him up.
Jenkinson's transfer may not win many backpage headlines in the next few days, but no Arsenal fan can deny an addition who boasts such spirt, potential, love for the club and versatility can be a bad thing given the criticisms aimed at the team in recent seasons.
Interesting report. Can I ask, how many times have you seen the lad play live? Have you scouted him personally?
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