Arsenal have confirmed that they will be releasing 10 youngsters at the end of their contracts. Conor Henderson, Jernade Meade, Sanchez Watt, James Shea, Reice Charles-Cook, Sead Hajrovic, Philip Roberts, Nigel Neita, Samir Bihmoutine and Josh Rees will all be available on free transfers when their contracts expire on June 30th.
Of the 10, 3 players played in the first team. Henderson made his debut in the FA Cup replay against Leyton Orient in the 2010/11 season. After that game Arsene Wenger said he believed Henderson would play his part in the first-team at Arsenal. He picked up an injury in pre-season in the summer of 2011, which ruled him out for 8 months. Since then, there has been no way back into the first-team for Henderson. He looked like he was going to make it at one stage. Perhaps if he didn’t get injured, I could be writing a very different story about him today.
Meade is the player that featured in the first-team most recently. He made his debut as a substitute in the thrilling 7-5 Capital One Cup win at Reading last season and then appeared in the Champions League as an inexperienced Arsenal side lost 2-1 to Olympiakos in the group stages. I remember Meade put in a good performance that night against Olympiakos and I was impressed. I was surprised to see he didn’t get further chances, but when Arsene Wenger took both the FA Cup and Capital One Cup more seriously, there were less chances for Meade. Add to that the fact he signed Nacho Monreal from Malaga on transfer deadline day in January and there are no real surprises that Meade has been released, despite impressing when called upon.
Watt had a promising start to his Arsenal career, scoring in a League Cup win over West Brom in 2009/10. He also had some promising games for the reserves and in pre-season games over the years, so I believe most Arsenal fans were excited about Watt’s future at the club. In his time at Arsenal, Watt has had many loan spells. In 2009/10 he was at Southend and Leeds. The following year he was at Leeds again and even played against Arsenal in an FA Cup tie, both at the Emirates and Elland Road as Arsenal were held to a draw at home, before finishing the job off at Leeds in the replay.
Since then he has also had loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday, Crawley Town and Colchester United, so I believe he’ll be able to find a club in League One as a minimum.
I would like to wish all of the 10 players the very best of luck for the future and I hope they find new clubs as soon as possible.