Arsenal has already started making plans for next season after narrowly losing out on a Champions League spot last season. Currently, the Gunners are away in Germany where they are in the middle of a pre-season training camp at the Adidas headquarters in Nuremberg.
Before Friday’s friendly against FC Nurnberg, recent signings Matt Turner, Marquinhos, and Gabriel Jesus have all been looking to impress their new teammates on the trip so far. Although Youri Tielemans, Raphinha, and Lisandro Martinez were among the players mentioned, it is now highly unlikely that any fresh additions will join them.
Given that many of the players who were on international duties have not yet returned from their vacations, there is an opportunity for some of the Gunners’ younger players to impress Mikel Arteta. Charlie Patino is one of those who has already attracted attention.
After scoring on his debut in the Carabao Cup quarterfinal win over Sunderland in December, the 18-year-old instantly caught the interest of Arsenal supporters last season. Due to his playing style, he has been compared to fellow Hale Ender Jack Wilshere and is one of the most highly regarded prospects in the current under-23s squad.
When he made his debut against Sunderland, the hype around him skyrocketed, but ever since then, people at the club have been keen to protect Patino from overexposure. Mikel Arteta is one of them and he wants to take his time with the youngster.
The Spaniard said back in December, “Now we have to prepare him slowly.” “I believe this was a fantastic start. What we need to stay away from is that hype. There is still a ton of competition for him. He’s a really young player. And he needs to go step by step.”
Patino went on to make his first start in the FA Cup third round defeat to Nottingham Forest. Since then though he has failed to obtain any senior minutes, in part due to the lack of cup matches Arsenal played in the second half of last season, but also due to an injury he sustained.
He has since spent the summer working on his physicality in order to prepare himself for the step up from under-23s to first team football in the coming season. With Arsenal back in the Europa League, the group stage games in particular offer Patino a chance for further senior exposure, and the Gunners appear to have dropped a hint that he could be involved in the first team set-up a little more for the coming season.
When playing with the first team last year, Patino wore the No. 87 shirt, but he appears to have been given a new number this time around. As Arsenal took a tour of the archives at the Adidas headquarters in Nuremberg, the 18-year-old was seen wearing a training kit with the number 35 on it. The shirt, which was left vacant this summer when Gabriel Martinelli switched to the number 11, could be a sign that Patino is set for a bigger senior role in the coming season.
It should be said that the jersey numbers players wear in pre-season do not always correspond to those they will wear throughout the next season. Patino is not expected to go on loan this summer, and it does seem possible that we could see him play a bigger role in Arteta’s first squad this season.