Arsenal kick off their Europa League campaign on Thursday with a trip to Austria as they face Rapid Vienna, who sit second in the Austrian Bundesliga.
While the Europa League isn’t the most popular tournament for Arsenal fans, having been accustomed to Champions League football for the majority of the 21st century, the group stages of this competition is often seen as an opportunity for the Gunners to give some of their teenage talents a chance in the senior team.
Players such as Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli benefitted heavily from Europa League action last year, as it helped them push towards becoming first-team regulars in the Premier League.
Arsenal will most likely look to do the same this year, however one youngster that won’t be involved is William Saliba, despite the competition seeming an almost perfect opportunity to settle him in at the club.
The French teenager, who’s been labelled “the Mbappe of centre-backs” by some media outlets in France, has been playing U23 football for Arsenal this season after a loan move failed to materialise in the transfer window.
As a result of Arsenal believing Saliba would find a club to move to on loan, he is unavailable to play in the competition until the knockout stages in February. For anyone wondering why this is the case, here are the squad selection regulations imposed by UEFA.
Europa League teams can form their matchday squads by selecting players they put on their A and B list. The A list consists of a maximum of 25 players, with 8 of them needing to be homegrown, meaning they must have been trained for at least 3 years by an English club between the ages of 15 and 21.
The B list is slightly more simple as it has an unlimited number of spaces, but can only consist of “U21 club players”, which are those who have been at the club for three or more years between the ages of 15 and 21.
Unfortunately, given Saliba was not put on the A list because he was expected to leave, the teenager is unable to play in the group stages, however the rest of Arsenal’s youngsters can. Here is the full A and B list the Gunners have submitted.
A list: Bernd Leno, Runar Runarsson, Matt Macey, James Hillson, Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari, Rob Holding, Gabriel, David Luiz, Sead Kolasinac, Kieran Tierney, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Cedric, Dani Ceballos, Willian, Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka, Mohammed Elneny, Nicolas Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
B list: Karl Hein, Arthur Okwonko, Joel Lopez, Bukayo Saka, Ryan Alebiosu, Miguel Azeez, Ben Cottrell, Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock, Emile Smith-Rowe, Folarin Balogun, Jordan McEneff, Eddie Nketiah.
Should Arsenal qualify for the knockout stages, three more players may be added, as long as the requirements are still met, and while it is a shame Saliba won’t be featuring to begin with, it would be a huge shock if Mikel Arteta’s side failed to qualify for the latter stages of the competition.