Arsenal sign Ben Sheaf from West Ham

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Arsenal have made England youth midfielder Ben Sheaf their first signing of the summer.

According to the Metro and backed-up by a Twitter picture from teammate Kaylen Hinds that shows Sheaf in an Arsenal training kit, the 16-year-old England youth international has turned down a West Ham contract offer to move across London to Arsenal.

He had been tipped as one to watch by the Hammers coaching staff, and they'll be left disappointed as Arsenal are free to poach away academy stars, as long as they pay a compensation fee.

England action

The Eynsford-born midfielder made his debut for the England under-16s in the Victory Shield last year, having joined the West Ham academy aged 13.

He helped England to a 1-0 victory over Wales last October, although the under-16s lost their next two games to Northern Ireland and Scotland by a single goal each time.

Why Arsenal?

Despite the notable successes when it comes to youth development, most recently Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs, the Arsenal academy has not been one of the most successful in terms of trophies.

Chelsea and Manchester United have dominated proceedings in the last decade, with Arsenal scooping just one FA Youth Cup winners medal in 2009.

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But at youth level, it's not the trophies that count - it's all about creating a pathway from academy level to reserve team football and eventually to the first-team. In this regard Arsenal have been one of the more successful, even if they do rely on stocking their academy with foreign youngsters a touch too much.

Of course, they're not the only club that takes advantage of these age-group rules, but high profile examples include Cesc Fabregas, Fran Merida and Ignasi Miquel to name three from Spain.

As well as being one of the best academies in the country, Sheaf gets to play in the same facility as his younger brother now, who is also on Gunners books.

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