Arsenal have announced the signing of 20-year-old Norwegian winger George Lewis from Fram Larvik, whilst the Athletic believe the Gunners have also signed defensive midfielder Tim Akinola and defender Jonathan Dinzeyi on free transfers from Huddersfield Town and Tottenham Hotspur respectively.
The Gunners have reportedly signed the trio in order to add more balance and depth to their U23 squad, who have lost Zech Medley, Trae Coyle and Matt Smith on loans to League one club Gillingham and league two side Swindon Town respectively.
These signings are the start of a new Arsenal strategy in the transfer market, seeing them sign young players for no fee with the intention of strengthening their youth teams but also having the possibility of them playing for the first team in the future.
If they fail to make the step up, then the Gunners can sell them on for guaranteed profit, unless they release them at the end of their contract. So with that in mind, who are Arsenal’s new young trio of signings?
The Rwandan-born winger, who played for Fram Larvik in the Norweigan third division, signed for Arsenal after being brought over for a trial with the Gunners in March.
Despite being announced yesterday, there were strong rumours months before that the forward had signed, including Lewis himself confirming on his Instagram that he had signed for Arsenal in April.
The winger will wear the number 48 shirt for the U23s next season and, in an interview with Arsenal, Lewis expressed his excitement of signing for the club and said that he will look to put on a show for the Arsenal fans.
Lewis said: “It’s really an unbelievable feeling. It feels really good right now. My playing style is very direct. I like to dribble a lot, I like to express myself on the field, so they can expect a show from me.”
Whilst the forward clearly impressed on his trial, some have been left confused by the transfer, with Lewis not scoring in just two appearances for Fram Larvik’s first team. However, Arsenal are a club known for giving young players a chance, so it will be interesting to see if Lewis can take advantage of this huge opportunity.
The 19-year-old Englishman was released from Championship side Huddersfield Town this summer and after the current defensive midfielder for the U23s, Matt Smith, joined Swindon Town on loan, it seems Arsenal have found his replacement.
Similarly to Lewis, Akinola is moving on just one year after joining his new team, after swapping Lincoln City for Huddersfield in the 2019 summer transfer window.
The youngster has taken a different route to a top club in comparison to most young players, with Akinola starting his youth career aged 16 at League Two side Mansfield Town, before joining Lincoln a year later.
Akinola helped Lincoln to the third round of the FA Youth Cup before being beaten 5-1 by West Brom in the 2018/19 season, however, the ball-winning midfielder struggled to get game time at Huddersfield and Arsenal offered him a route out.
The Englishman, who is also eligible to play for Nigeria, is a player who puts himself around the pitch a lot, with a similar play style to Francis Coquelin in the way he loves a slide tackle. Whether he makes it to the first team or not, he will be a useful player for the U23s.
The former England U18 international has played at the highest level of Arsenal’s three new young signings, having spent his career with Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur.
Dinzeyi made his Tottenham U23s debut aged 18 and, this term, he managed six appearances before the Covid-19 pandemic cut the season short. With defender Zech Medley going on loan to Gillingham, it seems the former Spurs man will be a direct replacement for the Arsenal centre-back.
The 6’0” tall Englishman, who can also play for DR Congo, has struggled with consistent game time since moving up to U23 level, whether that is through injuries, or simply not being selected, and Dinzeyi will be hoping to feature more when the Arsenal U23 season gets underway.
The 20-year-old isn’t the first centre-back to make the switch from the white side of North London to the red after being released, and Dinzeyi will certainly be hoping to follow in the footsteps of the last man to do that, Sol Campbell.
While these signings may not be the ones Arsenal fans are currently hoping for at the moment, with deals for Gabriel and Thomas Partey seeming close, they will be welcome additions to the U23 team for sure.
Even though a first team appearance seems a while off for these three, they’ve all been given an excellent opportunity by Arsenal, and if they impress, maybe we could see them playing at the Emirates in a few years’ time.