Remember the name: Charlie Patino
Born: 17 Oct. 2003
Club career: Arsenal (2020-)
Watford-born Patino signed his first professional contract for Arsenal in October 2020. Look, here he is celebrating that contract with Per Mertesacker (who is in charge of the Gunners’ academy), looking even younger than his 17 years (he’s actually almost six foot tall, but standing next to a big friendly giant like Per can be deceiving):
Arsenal envisage a bright future for the former Luton Town starlet. Patino recently made the Guardian’s annual Next Generation list of hot young talents. His playing style has earned favourable comparisons with the likes of Liam Brady, Phil Foden and Jack Wilshere. He’s a central midfielder with excellent technique, including a lovely left foot, plus superb balance and positional awareness. The Guardian raved about him, going so far as to call him a “generational talent” who has “consistently dominated games at age-group level”. In short, the boy’s a natural.
Patino has reportedly impressed head coach Mikel Arteta too, and he will surely progress to Arsenal’s first-team squad as a teenager – it could happen next season, even though Patino has only just turned 17. He was added to Arsenal’s squad for their recent Europa League game against Molde, so it’s clear the club thinks he’s capable of stepping up to the first team.