Kyle Bartley joins Swansea. Is project youth failing? – AFC

It’s all happening at the Arsenal now, players are leaving left right and centre. Whilst arsenal fans are still digesting the news of the imminent robin van persie deal to united revealed on Wednesday; news broke last night of the permanent transfer of Kyle Bartley to premiership team Swansea. Hardly the straw that broke the camel’s back but all the same a sign that project youth didn’t bear the gem that all the time and investment warranted.

The scouting team clearly saw something special in Bartley when they plucked him from Bolton youth a few years back, he seemed to be working his way through the ranks at arsenal. He has definitely benefitted from a number of loan moves to improve his game; the most recent gaining big game experience at Ibrox with Rangers. Many thought that would be the high profile experience that would put him in good stead to cope with the demands of representing arsenal.

His promotion to the 1st team this season looked like an indication of a breakthrough season on the cards. The opportunity he had been waiting for ever since joining the club would be realised this season; all be it as 5th choice centre back. Would he have the patience to wait for an opportunity to stake a claim for the starting XI or would the experience of regular 1st team football at the top level with Rangers give him the taste to experience more of that?

It’s clear Kyle saw the latter as the better option and to be fear arsenal fans cannot hold it against him. Regular football in a Swansea team that impressed so many last season how could we convince him otherwise.

You have to question how hard a decision was it for arsenal to agree the deal. Is it that they cannot see the full potential they initially realised when he was first acquired coming to fruition? Have they made a choice between Bartley and Miquel and see greater potential in the Spaniard? Or is it just good will from Arsene to grant Bartley an opportunity for football at premiership level which he could not guarantee at Arsenal in the coming season? Maybe we will never get the full answer but after the departure of promising midfielder Ozzy Oghuzup to Besiktas one does wonder if we are now holding onto the real gems and cutting our losses on the later developers despite the potential they have.

A lot of investment went into many youngsters who never quite took off to the next level at arsenal; players like Vela, Denilson and Bendtner despite their unrivalled talent at a young age have not quite hit the heights that maybe were expected of them. They did of course move up the grade to first team players but the high level of consistency and output expected never quite appeared often enough. They were eventually deemed surplus to requirements and Wenger was prepared to let them go without putting up much of a fight.

There really is a thin line between the benefits of loaning young players out to clubs; it really is the sink and swim test; many go out to lower league clubs and hardly make a ripple at their new clubs. Sometimes it shows that their chances of cutting it at arsenal are heavily reduced if they can’t make an impact at lower level, sometimes a loan move can come too early for a young player and a bit more development is required however the experience in invaluable. Then there are young players that take to the loan move like ducks to water, they really grasp their opportunity and get their first taste of idolisation from fans and teammates. This divides players when their loans are over; they either come back with a fresh hunger and belief they can break into the Arsene’s plans or they return having liked the 1st team experience and yearn for that opportunity elsewhere rather than being patient, playing reserve football and waiting for the opportunities as presented in the carling cup and sometimes fa cup. Additionally after years of assessments the player simply isn’t deemed good enough and informed they can move on.

Over the years I have maybe only seen Bartley play 2 or 3 games for the arsenal and in each one he had produced a gaff that led to a goal. I put it down to rawness at such a young age, he still showed potential and the mistakes which are expected from young players would get ironed out. Maybe those mistakes were becoming repeat offenders? I’m not sure I never watched any of his ranger’s performances and the feedback from others was that he was impressing over there.

Whatever the reason project youth comes under the microscope again, if he clearly wasn’t going to make it why wasn’t he let go a long time ago and if he was deemed a talent why did we let him go so easily (with no doubt a massive selling on fee)? One other factor I forgot to mention was Bartley’s cryptic support on twitter for Ched Evans when the striker was sentenced for rape. He received a major backlash from the fans and eventually back tracked his tweet claiming it was for something else and nothing to do with the trial. Luckily he wasn’t high profile enough for the story to hit the red tops but I’m sure the people who matter at arsenal took note of those events. Support of a convicted rapist does not bode well on the representation of the club.

Whatever the reason I’m sure Mr Arsene will give us the answer one day, hopefully the truth and not the wrapped in cotton wool answer.

Enjoy your day people

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9 thoughts on “Kyle Bartley joins Swansea. Is project youth failing? – AFC

  1. Project youth hasn’t failed. It is clear that we get players in from round the world at a young age. They show potential and are wanted by alot of the top clubs. We try to develop them into first team players, but they may fall short of being top top class by a certain age. Decisions then need to be made. We sell them and recoup the wages and some of the money spent on bringing them through. It funds itself and every now and then you geta gem, like Wilshere, Song, Sczesney etc.


    • we do get gems every now and then but also a lot do not make the grade, i question whether we release the ones that are 50/50 sooner rather than sticking with them in the hope they reach the next level.


  2. If you read Bartely’s comments you will notice that it is him who chose to move on because he was far down in the packing order. There is no way that he could dislodge Varmelan, Kos, Mertesacker and Djouro this season. That is why Wenger told him that his playing time is limited. Considering that both of the above mentioned players are in their mid twenties it means that Bartely would have to wait for at least 4 years before he could force his way into the team.

    Put differently Bartely is a victim of circumstances. When the Central defenders were needed badly, that is in 2009 (purchase of Vam), 2010 (purchase of Kos) and 2011 (purchase of Merta), he was not ready to step up. This is what created his unfortunate situation, so he had to go to get playing time. As long as the quartet of Vam, Kos, Merta and Djouro remains at arsenal it will require extreme patience or talent for CBs from the academy to make it to the first team in the next four or so years. Djouro could easily be overtaken but I don’t think it will be easy to dislodge the other three.

    The success for the youth academy is measured not by those who fail to make the grade but by those who make the grade. For instance, right now the first team boast of well over six players who meet the home grown by arsenal criterion. If some players like Fabrigas and company had not left the first 11 could easily have comprised of youth academy products.


    • I agree with your points but also one thing im trying to get across is not exactly the number of players that fail but the fact those that do make the grade move on, so our investment in building up these players seem wasted when as soon as they reach the level required they want to move on. wengers plan was to build his future teams around the youth but when they keep jumping ship when they are ready it sets all the development back


      • The fact that these players move on is not a sign of policy failure but tactical problems associated with implementation of the policy. For instance, there could be need for psychological education to be infused into the academy learning program so that these players believe in their capacity to deliver when they are needed most. If you look back seven years you could see that what separated us from a trophy was that belief lacking in some of the players. In the curling cup final we scored first but ended up losing 2-1 to Chelsea. In the run ins it was apparent that belief deserted players at crucial moments. Do you recall Nasri being put through against Bolton to make it 2 nil but shot at the goal keeper. We lost that game if I recall. Then there is this need to respond to the ridiculous wages being offered elsewhere that may be attracting our players away.

        All these issues are at at tactical level. Like, what one American general said “we made a number of tactical mistakes but as long as our strategy was right we knew we would succeed”. The youth development strategy is the best what needs to be done is to address the “hows” of this strategy that are hampering progress.


  3. song in talks with barcelona, confirmed by wenger! honestly it’s on arseblog!..i don’t understand why wenger is selling song after going through everything to make him the player he is! when will we ever reap the benefits of producing good talent if these players leave before getting anywhere near their peak?, also losing two good quality players in one summer is not a good thing! what kind of intent is the club showing by announcing departures of it’s top player one after the other?
    it seems we neither offer good pay nor do we win trophies, are we heading towards mid table mediocrity? looks like we might even be selling if cazorla next season if city comes calling, surely all we are gonna hear is that the money obtained is good for the club. arsenal should really find the balance in investing and selling. every year you cant go out and say the team is in transition stage! it’s high time already! new deals are up for renewal in 2 years! what kind of leverage do we have to increase our sponsors ship deals?
    surely we are not earning like a top club anymore! quite honestly i think wenger and the board should makes changes regarding wage structure. we don’t need new players we just need to keep our players and maybe add a signing or 2 over the summer only if needed. we won’t earn top lucrative deals if we don’t win anything. this is messed up! we need to gamble and move forward!


    • i suppose the only postive out of the song news is Arsene admitting he was prepared to bring in a replacement if the move happens. my question is why the hell are these coming out a day before the season starts?


  4. Project Youth is nearly an independent entity, in that it furnishes both the 1st team, and the reserves with enough players to make 3-4 different XI\’s. If you take over 50 kids between 16 and 19, and want to push them through to first-team football, you\’ll always have to drop some off. Some will fail, because young players often fail to develop properly. Others will succeed elsewhere because there wasn\’t enough room for them. A few will make it to the 1st team.
    Right now, the team includes 13 players who have come through the youth ranks (excluding Bartley, including Jenkinson and all other who passed through the reserves before they moved up). Another 3 are on loan (Miyaichi, Denilson, Campbell). Add Wellington to that, although he\’s by far the least likely to have any impact on the team.
    Then, there are players like Gnabry, Yennaris, Lansbury, Miquel, or Eisfeld, who are on the fringes of the 1st team. Each of them has a chance to push through, but Lansbury might find it the hardest to do. We have a lot of midfielders on the books, and he\’s the oldest of the youth CMs.
    In other words, the system works at a very good rate. Can\’t see how the Bartley case tells us anything about it. Of the 50 or so that are employed by the club, over 30 will have to go somewhere. Pure maths. Self-sustainability isn\’t about not using players from other sources, but about limiting the amount of transfers done, and we\’re definitely moving in this direction. In 2-3 years, we should be able to make do with 1-2 transfers per season (rather then the current 3-5).
    Also, unsuccessful loan deals do not necessarily mean a player is going to miss out on Arsenal. Arsenal have their own system, and the loans are mainly meant to let the young players adjust to the way it\’s done at a higher level. Hence, a successful loan at League Two may often turn out to be less impressive than a subdued performance in Primera Division. A player in development can learn a lot about positioning, implementing skills, reading the game, etc., without achieving anything, and I don\’t think Wenger expects his players to be a success wherever they go on loan.
    An aside: I hate it when people talk about players like Bendtner, Denilson or Vela being failures. They aren\’t: theyr are simply not the level we need. Bendtner is a solid centre forward with a lot of self-confidence; Vela is a pacy winger with some flair, but not enough toughness for the EPL; and Denilson showed well enough what he\’s capable of in 2008, but took a series of wrong turns later on and is now trying to get back to that. I can understand talk about Chamakh, Squillaci, or Park being failures, as they seem to have lost the qualities we brought them in for; but the youth \”failures\” still have those qualities, they simply don\’t use them the way we would like them to.


    • i agree with your points, i just have to add a player like sanchez watt who hasnt set the world alight during his number of loan spells would give me an indication he wont be making it in the first team. Gavin hoyte and rhys murphy are another 2 that come to mind. i know other factors played a part like injuries etc but when the feedback isnt good it comes at no suprise when they are released or sold. danny boateng is another who needs to prove himself, his loan at swindon was far from a success and it will be interesting to see what happens to him next.


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