Belfast Telegraph

Arsenal make most use of homegrown talent, study shows

Gunners fielded graduates from their own academy for a total of 7,933 minutes in the 2017-18 Premier League season.

Arsenal cemented their position as the Premier League side offering most opportunities to their youngsters as Arsene Wenger left a long-term legacy in his final season in charge.

For the second season running, Press Association Sport research showed that the Gunners relied on their own academy graduates for more playing time than any other team – 7,933 minutes in all.

And this time around, they also used the most individual players developed in-house, an honour previously held by Manchester United.

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(PA Graphic)

United, whose academy produced the most Premier League players and playing time in the division overall, ranked second in terms of using their own graduates with Everton occupying the final podium spot in the study.

At the other end of the scale, Burnley did not call on a product of their own academy until the final two minutes of the season, when Dwight McNeil came on as a substitute against Bournemouth.

Young Guns

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Alex Iwobi gained plenty of playing time for Arsenal (Victoria Jones/PA)

The study tracked the playing time of every player in last season’s Premier League, along with the club or academy where they finished their youth career.

Hector Bellerin and Alex Iwobi continued to fly the flag for Arsenal’s homegrown brigade, while Jack Wilshere’s return from a loan spell at Bournemouth boosted their figures – the sometime England midfielder, though, was released at the end of the season and joined West Ham.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles stepped up from a solitary minute in the Premier League in 2016-17 to play 993 minutes last term – and the first Arsenal player born after Wenger took charge was joined in that niche category by Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah.

Francis Coquelin made it eight homegrown players, though the midfielder’s playing time was limited by the form of Mohamed Elneny.

The chasing pack

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Scott McTominay prospered but the rest of Manchester United’s 2016-17 crop were seldom seen (Martin Rickett/PA)

Twelve months previously, the study showed 10 United academy graduates featuring in Jose Mourinho’s Premier League team.

Many of those only featured late in the season, though, when Mourinho shuffled his pack to focus on the Europa League – Joel Pereira, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Demetri Mitchell, Scott McTominay, Josh Harrop and Angel Gomes each failed to crack 100 minutes.

McTominay was the only one to establish himself in 2017-18, playing 694 minutes to join Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard as regular contributors while Axel Tuanzebe featured for two minutes.

Southampton were the other team to reach five players but only James Ward-Prowse featured regularly, meaning Everton and Tottenham were next up in terms of playing time.

The Toffees re-signed Wayne Rooney from United – like Wilshere, he has since moved on – and also gave regular action to Tom Davies and Jonjoe Kenny, with Beni Baningime adding to the tally. Harry Kane led a Spurs contingent also featuring Danny Rose, Harry Winks and Kyle Walker-Peters.

City slackers

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Can Phil Foden fly the flag for Manchester City’s expensive academy? (Martin Rickett/PA)

Manchester City compiled some impressive statistics as they swaggered to the Premier League title, but playing time for academy graduates was not among them.

The previous season’s only contributor, Kelechi Iheanacho, was sold to Leicester before the season started and none of his fellow prospects managed even the equivalent of a full match, though hopes are high for Phil Foden and Brahim Diaz.

They, along with Lukas Nmecha, combined for 152 minutes – only Bournemouth, with 74 minutes from Jack Simpson, and Burnley ranked lower.

The latter pair were two of five clubs to use only a single player developed in-house – though Brighton’s lone representative, Lewis Dunk, was a Premier League ever-present. Adrian Mariappa played 2,385 minutes for Watford while Connor Roberts accounted for all of Swansea’s 288-minute tally.

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