Gilles Sunu.

The 16-year-old dubbed ‘the new Henry’ who joined Arsenal in 2007 - where is he now?

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Europe's top clubs often spend big money on youngsters hoping that they will develop into one of the world's best footballers.

And that was the case in 2007, when Arsenal decided to splash out on a 16-year-old Frenchman from Châteauroux, in a deal potentially worth £2.7 million.

Gilles Sunu arrived in north London with lofty reputation, with some media outlets even dubbing him 'the new Thierry Henry' by the media.

And the vice-president at Chateauroux, Patrick Trotignon, also sung his praises upon the move.

"He plays as an out-and-out striker like Thierry Henry, but he also can play in midfield," Trotignon said in 2007.

"Gilles is lightning quick and he has great technical skills. But the key is that he is very intelligent, older than his years."


The highly rated youngster was immediately thrust into the youth team at Arsenal, where he spent his first few years at the club. With Henry just leaving the club, it was hoped he would be able to emulate his success in the first team in the near future.

And life in England started off well. He played a vital role in Arsenal's FA Youth Cup winning side of 2009, with his performance in the first leg in the final against Liverpool impressing former Premier League player Steve Clarridge, who noted: "He shone in this dazzling display."

Here he is scoring the opening goal of that game:

After appearing in a couple of cup competitions for Arsenal the following season, he then had spells at Derby County and FC Lorient, where he failed to shine at either club.

But, just days after being on the bench for Arsenal in their humiliating 8-2 defeat to Manchester United in 2011, Arsene Wenger decided the Frenchman's time at Arsenal was up, with Sunu signing for Lorient on a permanent basis.


Sunu's reasoning for leaving Arsenal was simple: he wanted to make a name for himself at a club where he would be given more first team opportunities.

"I have signed for four years with Lorient," he told Belgian RTBF upon signing for the club. "My desire was to join Lorient in order to play.

"My objective for the season, if I play up front, would be to score 10 goals, and if I play on the wing, to score goals and make some decisive passes."

Although the Frenchman would never hit the heights that were once expected of him, he has enjoyed a decent career since leaving north London.

Olympiakos v Arsenal - UEFA Champions League

Sunu featured 86 times for Lorient in his four seasons at the club, notching eight goals.

A spell at Evian followed, before signing for Angers SCO in 2015. He has been at the Ligue 1 outfit ever since, notching just three times in 79 appearances.

So, Sunu never quite hit his goal of notching 10 goals in a season. In fact, he has scored just 15 goals in his professional career.

But, despite never emulating the success of Thierry Henry, he has still enjoyed a career that many young footballers would love to have.

And at 26-years-old, he still has his best footballing days to come.

Arsene Wenger
Gilles Sunu
Thierry Henry

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