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Tim Akinola: who is this latest Arsenal midfield sensation?

Mikel Arteta promoted Nigerian defensive midfielder Tim Akinola and five other academy prospects to first-team training ahead of Saturday’s game with Leicester City.

Even this early in his career, Tim Akinola, 20 years old, has been something of a journeyman player.

Before joining Huddersfield Town in June 2019, Tim was at Lincoln City, where his progress was rewarded by breaking into the first-team squad in the EFL Trophy.

During his time with Lincoln City, Tim also had a spell on loan with non-league side Lincoln United in January 2019.

Having struggled to break into Huddersfield’s main team, even at one time being loaned to non-league outfit Bridgetown FC, he was eventually released.

Arsenal took a gamble to sign him in August 2020. They saw an opportunity to develop a player who they paid nothing for (shrewd business if you ask me).

The 20-year-old has already amassed over 30 appearances across Arsenal’s U23 and U21 sides and was a mainstay for the club at youth level last season.

When I read the news that he is going to be promoted to the Arsenal main team, I was pleased for the youngster.

That said, it is way too early in the day – I think – to talk about national team football for this budding centre midfielder.

Yes he seems an exciting prospect but he needs to settle down, prove himself, prove his worth and develop his game first.

A player who reportedly relishes making crunching challenges, Akinola also enjoys the creative side of the game and will push forward when the opportunity arises.

Akinola, who is eligible to represent England or Nigeria at senior level will hope to raise the quality and standard of his game to such a level where either of these countries will come calling when the time is ripe.

For that to happen, he needs to transition smoothly from youth football to Arsenal’s main team and stay there (like Bukayo Saka) without being loaned out to clubs in the much lower divisions.

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