What does it take for a young player to break into the first team and what constitutes an exceptional talent when it comes to a young player? When Patrick Vieira left Arsenal after such an illustrious career to go to Juventus, Arsenal fans were clamoring for established stars to take over Vieira’s position.
Instead, Wenger turned to a young talent in the form of Cesc Fabregas who had got a few first team games under his belt but was hardly ready to step in to such big shoes…or so we thought. The result was a strong run all the way to the Champions League final and as a consequence, Wenger went on to build his team around Fabregas.
Fabregas is the only prodigious talent that Arsenal can say was an outright success. After Jack Wilshere broke in to the first team, everyone expected him to go ahead and forge an incredible career at Arsenal. Instead, Wilshere’s career has been blighted by injuries and inconsistency and I do not think there is any Arsenal fan who would bet on him reaching his potential. It is actually ridiculous that we are talking about potential at this point in his career.
Two players that everyone is talking about as the ‘next best thing’ are Zelalem and Dan Crowley. However, unlike Fabregas who was deemed to be good enough to be thrown in at the deep end, Zelalem and Crowley have been sheltered from the media.
However, at eighteen years, you would expect Wenger to start trusting Zelalem enough to give him first team games and Crowley is not far behind. One player Wenger trusted enough to play in important games was Serge Gnabry and he has not disappointed when called upon while AOC has continued to impress ever since his debut.
It seems some players need time to develop while others are too talented and mature to handle the pressure at such an early age. Maybe that’s the difference between a good and exceptional player.