Arsenal loanee Wellington Silva showcases silky skills during Bolton game

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When Arsenal recruited yet another 16-year-old striker by the name of Wellington Silva from Fluminense back in January 2010, it’s fair to say his arrival was met by relatively muted fanfare.

"Arsene Wenger signs a striker!... But 16-year-old Brazil star Wellington Silva won't arrive for another year," read one Daily Mail headline, with the usual scorn poured upon the Frenchman’s decision to recruit raw, young talent over polished Premier League stars.

And over the next few years, it seemed like the critics could be right, with Wellington embarking on a series of under-the-radar loan spells, predominantly in the Spanish Segunda Division, where he showed flashes of the brilliance that initially wowed Arsenal scouts.


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Back in the frame at the Emirates last summer after finally securing the necessary work permit to play in England, Wellington found himself heading off in search of first-team experience via a loan stint at Bolton.

On the face of it, another move away from the north London club may have looked like a step in the wrong direction, but that couldn't be further from the truth.

Throughout his time at Arsenal, Wenger has utilised loans to Championship clubs to great success, blooding in future first-teamers like Hector Bellerin, Francis Coquelin and Kieran Gibbs over the years.

In fact, it would have been far more counter-productive had the Brazilian not been loaned out to a lower tier club and instead placed, unused, on the Emirates bench or in the club’s development squad.

Upon the announcement of Wellington’s move to the Macron, Wenger was full of praise for the young Brazilian: "He’s absolutely stunning to watch and I believe Bolton will be surprised by his quality."

“I believe he will do extremely well because he has gained a lot of experience in Spain, he has come back to England and I am confident he will have a big impact in the Championship.”

Some six months on from that statement and it looks like Wellington has finally arrived in England.

With just 11 appearances (three as a substitute) and a single goal and assist to his name, it’s fair to say Bolton manager Neil Lennon has used the Brazilian sparingly, keen to ensure he has time to adjust to the demands of the English game.

That approach is starting to pay dividends not only for Bolton and Lennon, but Arsenal also.

Imperious for the Trotters in a crucial 2-1 win over MK Dons in the Championship last weekend, Wellington’s array of tricks, flicks and impressive skill was on show for the entire world to see.

Though not always at his best this term for the debt-laden club, the Brazilian now looks to have put these off-field issues behind him.

It’s now a question of whether his form over the rest of the season will be enough to convince Wenger that his future is at the Emirates. Steer Bolton to safety with some consistent displays and the answer could be yes.

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Thierry Henry
Premier League

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