Five hidden gems of the Arsenal academy

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Arsenal are a club renowned for providing youth prospects with the opportunity to prove themselves in the first-team, with the likes of Chuba Akpom, Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Alex Iwobi such names to have featured and lined up alongside some of the Gunners' biggest stars.

Throughout his reign, Arsene Wenger has always a conscious attempt, unlike so many, to consistently produce young talent, rather than resort to the cheque book all-too-quickly and splash out on a proven star.

Here, therefore, we look at five lesser-known youngsters in the club's youth system who could go on to enjoy successful careers at a high level:


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Donyell Malen

Powerful and a prolific finisher, the Dutch forward, signed from Ajax only recently, is likely to feature prominently for Arsenal's U18 side this season and is certainly one to keep an eye out for in the future.

Much is expected of the striker, who is very skilful and arrives with a reputation for terrorising defences. The youngster, who can also operate on the left wing if required, is expected to sign professional terms once he turns 17 in January.

Ben Sheaf

Another player who will be hopeful of receiving plenty of game time for the second-string is Hinds' England youth international colleague. Plucked from West Ham United's esteemed academy last year, Sheaf was a regular for Arsenal's under-18 team during his first season in north London and, although he struggled at times, the central-midfielder has shown some considerable signs of promise during pre-season.

The 17-year-old, who signed professional terms last season, was named player of the competition as Arsenal won the recent Durban U19 Tournament in South Africa. Sheaf scored some spectacular goals during the tournament and will now be hopeful of doing likewise domestically this campaign.

Kaylen Hinds

Striker Hinds has been an Arsenal player since joining the club in 2012 from Leyton Orient. Quick and hard-working, the England youth international can also operate as an attacking-midfielder and has amassed plenty of experience of under-18 football in recent seasons.

Having signed his first professional contract and recovered from the injuries that frustrated him last season, Hinds is set for an eventful 2015/16 campaign, during which he will seek to establish himself as a key member of Arsenal's U21 side.

Joao Virginia

Joining the aforementioned Malen this summer was Benfica goalkeeper Joao Virginia. The shot-stopper, who has been capped by Portugal at youth level, is a good commander of his penalty area and will look to establish himself quickly at Arsenal having already started training with the club's under-18 team despite the fact that he is still a schoolboy.

Arsenal have struggled defensively at youth level in recent years, so Virginia should be prepared to be called into action regularly during games, though the 15-year-old will be looking to prove that Arsenal made an astute decision in signing him.

Stephy Mavididi

Finally, England under-17 striker Mavididi is another player who has made tremendous strides in recent years. A product of the club's Hale End academy, Stephy has often played above his age group and last season scored for the under-21s whilst he was still a first-year scholar.

Powerful and a hard worker, Stephy enjoyed a purple patch in front of goal for the U18s at the start of last season and will be hopeful of finding the net frequently for the second-string this time around. 

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