A Hale End product who has been with the club for many years, this is a pivotal season for Marc Bola’s development as he seeks to earn his first professional deal at Arsenal.
The 17-year-old, who is of no relation to fellow Arsenal youngster Tolaji Bola, enjoyed an eventful 2014/15 campaign, during which he broke into the club’s U21 team, featuring seven times at that level. He also made four appearances in the UEFA Youth League, but despite those considerable feats, his long-term future at the club remains uncertain.
Capable of playing at left-back or centre-back, although he is far more at home in the latter position, Bola is physically imposing and capable of making impressive challenges. The youngster first broke into Arsenal’s U18 team as an U15 player and he has progressed well since.
The new season should provide Bola with further opportunities to progress. The departure of Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, who has joined Swindon Town following his release by the Gunners (via BBC), has opened up a void at left-back in the U21 squad and Bola, at present, is the prime candidate to seize the spot.
Should he feature regularly for the U21s Bola may well be able to convince the Arsenal coaching staff, along with Academy Manager Andries Jonker, to grant him an extended stay. Making the grade at the club in the long term is going to be extremely difficult for the youngster but he has already demonstrated that he is capable of doing an effective job for the youth teams when called upon.
As well as his physical qualities, Bola, as you might expect from an Arsenal youngster, is also very good technically as can be seen in this video.
Goalscoring isn’t his forte, but the youngster, who is yet to represent England internationally, found the net with an excellent strike in the FA Youth Cup defeat to Crewe Alexandra last season.
He will be hoping to make even greater strides during the 2015/16 campaign, and we wish him all the best in his pursuit to do so.