Arsenal are a club who have built a reputation over the last decade for offering their young stars a chance to impress in the first-team – a club ethos which has been installed by Arsène Wenger.
Although the Frenchman has found a lot of success with this strategy, Wenger’s reported obsession with bringing Oğuzhan Özyakup back to the club has shown how even the best youth players can slip through the cracks in north London.
Here are five of Arsenal’s former academy players who would bolster the squad if they return to the Emirates next season.
5. Isaac Hayden – Newcastle United
Arsenal fans have been crying out for a mobile defensive midfielder to join their ranks for years, with the likes of Granit Xhaka, Francis Coquelin and Kim Källström failing to impress the majority of the Gunners fanbase.
In 22-year-old Isaac Hayden, who left Arsenal in 2016 to help Newcastle gain promotion from the Championship, the Gunners had a young player who was ready made for that position.
Hayden has already made 21 Premier League appearances for the Magpies this campaign and the Chelmsford-born anchor man would provide excellent cover for Arsenal’s first-team next season.
4. Serge Gnabry – Bayern Munich
Allowing Serge Gnabry to join Werder Bremen in 2016 was a deal that left a sour taste for most Arsenal fans.
The Gunners saw their young German winger leave north London for less that £5m and after just 12 months impressing at the Weser-Stadion, Gnabry completed a move to Bayern Munich for £7.2m
The versatile 22-year-old, who has forced in way into the German national team, has spent this season on loan with TSG Hoffenheim and has already been involved in seven goals during his injury hit campaign.
3. Ignasi Miquel – Málaga
If there’s one thing Arsenal love it’s a young player who didn’t quite make the grade at Barcelona’s infamous academy, La Masia.
Ignasi Miquel made the move from Barcelona to north London (via the academy of UE Cornellà) in 2008 but after six years of failing to tie down a regular first-team spot the defender dropped down the leagues to join Norwich.
Although it would still be fair to say that Arsenal should be looking at defenders of a higher calibre that Miquel, their decision to offload players this season without replacements have left the Gunners very short in defence.
2. Benik Afobe – Bournemouth
Much like Serge Gnabry’s career at Arsenal, academy graduate Benik Afobe was never given a chance to impress under Arsène Wenger.
Even after the powerful striker impressed with a loan spell at MK Dons – where he scored a brace against Manchester United in the Capital One Cup – Afobe was quickly moved out of the club for just £2m.
Coupled with Arsenal’s decision to let Olivier Giroud leave the Emirates during the last January transfer window, Afobe could offer the club a fantastic alternative to the playing style of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.
1. Havard Nordtveit – TSG Hoffenheim
As mentioned with Ignasi Miquel, Arsenal’s decision to offload a number of defenders this season have left defensive options for Arsène Wenger few and far between.
Although fans will be hoping that a big name centre-back will be moving to the Emirates in the summer, the Gunners could do worse than attempt to lure Havard Nordtveit back to the club.
The Norwegian international left north London in 2011 without making a single senior appearance for the club. However, after successful spells with Borussia Mönchengladbach and West Ham, the versatile defender now finds himself regularly starting alongside Serge Gnabry at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena.