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Arsenal have been famed for bringing through an impressive crop of youngsters since the days of Arsene Wenger, but one new graduate may be about to top the lot.
The likes of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe have recently made a name for themselves as two of England’s leading young talents, while Jack Wilshere also wowed the country and Cesc Fabregas was given his senior debut by the club.
Despite things going far from well at the moment for the Gunners, who are off to their worst ever league start – sitting rock bottom of the table with zero goals and zero points after three games – it appears the future could be bright.
An injection of youth may be about to brighten up the training ground, and there will be one name soon appearing that you should certainly be making a note of.
Charlie Patino is set to be integrated into Arsenal’s first team set up, joining fellow academy pair of James Olayinka and Tim Akinola.
But unlike his colleagues, holding midfielder Patino has already received the highest billing, being dubbed the club’s greatest talent for his age by the same man who discovered Wilshere as a young player.
Wilshere become Arsenal’s youngest ever senior debutant at the age of 16 years and 256 days, going on to make 197 for the north London club.
And appears they’ve found another gem in Patino was first spotted by another Arsenal scout, Brian Stapleton, at the age of 11.
“Of all the years I’ve been scouting, he’s the best kid I’ve ever seen,” said Stapleton, who made sure the Gunners signed Patino after seeing him play for Luton Town.
“I got a tip off about Charlie from a guy, so I went over there and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. He was 11 and I think he was playing in the Under-13s, and I was like ‘wow’.
“His first touch was unbelievable, his vision, his awareness of space. He was way above his years, he was on another planet to anyone else on the pitch.
“I made a phone call to my head of my department at Arsenal at the time, Sean O’Connor. He asked what I thought and I said, ‘well, I’m not coming back again. I don’t need to see any more, you need to sign this kid straight away.’
Stapleton added: “Sean O’Connor discovered Jack Wilshere and he said to me that Charlie is the best player who has ever walked through the doors at Hale End.
“The kid has got so much potential, but he’s not there yet.”
Now 17, Patino starred for Arsenal in their 4-0 behind closed doors win over Brentford, and could see his first team chance come against AFC Wimbledon in the Carabao Cup later this month.
But it’s not just scouts who are convinced, it’s also his teammates.
Reiss Nelson re-posted an Instagram picture of Patino on Wednesday, with the simple caption, ‘Remember the name.’
Patino, who already has a sponsorship deal with Nike, joined Arsenal in 2015 despite interest from Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham.
The London-born midfielder has Spanish roots from his father, and they’re reflected in his game, earning early comparisons to Andres Iniesta.
It’s a different Spanish star that Patino models his game on, though, and one Gunners fans will be pleased to see.
“Growing up I adored Santi Cazorla as a player,” Patino said. “Cesc Fabregas and Mikel Arteta were some of my favourites too.
“But there’s something about Santi for me and the qualities that he had – he was something else.”
Patino was regularly invited to train with the first team last season, and with more opportunities arising this campaign, he may finally be the good news story that Arsenal fans have been waiting for.
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