Signing a young player from abroad usually carries a significant element of risk. In many cases the individual concerned can struggle to adapt to his new surroundings, whilst even if he does thrive there is a chance that they could return to their homeland in the future.
With Donyell Malen, the prodigiously talented young striker plucked from Ajax’s esteemed academy, however, there certainly wasn’t much risk involved. Arsenal having scouted the player extensively before making a move to sign him on scholarship terms in the summer (via Mirror).
Malen initially had to be patient to make an impact in Arsenal colours as FIFA took some time to formally ratify his transfer. Now, however, he is a bonafide young Gunner and a very good one at that.
Powerful, quick and extremely skilful, Malen possesses good hold up play, but as he demonstrated when scoring a hat-trick for the U18s against Reading last week, he is most importantly an intelligent finisher who is capable of finding the net from difficult angles.
The youngster has featured prominently for the U18s and has also been heavily involved in Arsenal’s UEFA Youth League campaign, with the young Gunners on course to reach the latter stages of that competition having taken ten points from their first four fixtures.
There are further objectives that Malen will strive to achieve before the campaign is over. If he continues to develop then there is no reason why he shouldn’t be able to break into the U21 side in the months to come, with the striker having already demonstrated that he is capable of playing with and against players who are older than him.
Arsenal made some intriguing signings at youth level in the summer. Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Yassin Fortune, Ismael Bennacer and Vlad Dragomir are all fine talents, and Malen certainly falls into that category as well.
The 16-year-old, who has been capped by the Netherlands at youth level, has fared tremendously well in his short time in North London so far and hopes are high that he will be able to maintain that good form for the remainder of the season.
The youngster is also capable of playing as an attacking midfielder if required, and he can help to dictate play from that position, but Malen is at his best when in front of goal himself and the youngster’s progress has already been noted by first-team manager Arsene Wenger, who has invited the forward to train with the senior squad on several occasions already this campaign (according to images on HITC).