NEW Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has promoted Nigerian teenage duo Tolaji Bola and James Olayinka into the Gunner’s first team with them now being in contention for selection ahead of the next league match against Bournemouth on Boxing Day.
Last week, Mr Arteta took over as the new boss at the Emirates with a mandate to stem the incessant losses and it is expected that he will be active during the January transfer window as he seeks to strengthen to squad. In the interim, however, the new manager has looked at the Arsenal youth team and decided to promote some of the youngsters into the first team.
Olayinka has been inching closer to a professional debut in recent weeks, has trained with the first team several times this season and was a non-playing substitute in the last Europa League game against Standard Liege earlier this month. Bola, a defender has had an impressive campaign so far with the U23s and is comfortable playing as a left back and in the central defence.
Arsenal are currently undergoing an injury crisis in their full back positions, with regulars Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac all ruled out of the trip to the Vitality Stadium. Last weekend against Everton, another Nigerian youngster Bukayo Saka, played the full 90 minutes in last Saturday’s match against Everton.
Winger Saka has revealed that he is undecided about his international future as neither England or Nigeria have approached him over pledging his allegiance. Saka is of Nigerian descent but despite his parents originally coming from Nigeria, he has represented England at the youth levels.
Saka said: “No-one has been in touch but when I make a decision you will find out. I’m always thinking about it but I haven’t made a decision yet.”
He added that he thinks about the dilemma of choosing England and Nigeria but will make up his mind when he gets to that point in his career. Saka made his Premier League debut for the Gunners in January 2017 against Fulham and has praised former Arsenal head coach Unai Emery for the impact he has had on his Arsenal career.
Saka, who came through the Arsenal academy, has scored two goals and assisted five in 15 appearances across all competitions this season. He pointed out that coach Emery gave him so much confidence by offering him his debut constantly pushing him.