Arsenal

Arsenal have a ‘tenacious’ 17-year-old who could well become the next Ben White

Arsenal have done amazingly well on the youth talent front in recent years, with a number of Gunners academy graduates going on to great things.

Bukayo Saka has gone from Hale End to the very top of the game, and the likes of Emile Smith Rowe, Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson are also impressing at Arsenal.

And there are yet more top talents moving up the ranks who look set for bright futures in the game, such as Myles Lewis-Skelly, Ethan Nwaneri and Amario Cozier-Duberry.

By the looks of it, Arsenal may also have another talent in their ranks who could well become Ben White’s understudy and long-term replacement if all goes well.

Earlier this week, the Evening Standard published an in-depth feature article on who they deem to be the top 50 academy players across London.

Seven Arsenal youngsters made the cut, including Josh Nichols, a defender who previously had spells at London rivals Tottenham, Chelsea and West Ham.

The 17-year-old earned promotion to the Gunners Under-18s back in 2022 and has split his time between the U18s and the U21s this season.

As per Transfermarkt, Nichols has 10 U18 Premier League outings and six Premier League 2 appearances under his belt this term.

The youngster has also played six times in the UEFA Youth League, twice in the FA Youth Cup and twice in the EFL Trophy this season.

How is Arsenal academy ace Josh Nichols similar to Ben White?
As written by the Standard, Nichols has ‘developed his game to tuck inside from the right – like Mikel Arteta has Ben White do for the first team – and has worked hard on the attacking side of his game.’

Back in 2022, Arsenal interviewed Nichols for their Young Guns feature, and the player himself spoke about how he is being coached in a manner similar to White.

One thing I’ve been asked to do a lot is tucking inside as a full-back, just as Mikel Arteta has his defenders do in the first team,” he said.

“I feel like it’s been very effective for us this season and as I’ve been coached to play that way since under-16s level, it’s been built into my game.

“I want to play for the first team, so obviously this is what I want to do and need to do, so I just had to keep getting better at it.”

Meanwhile, Arsenal youth team expert Jeorge Bird has described Nichols – who can play on either flank – as a player who works hard to close opponents down.

Earlier this season, Bird wrote: “Although he isn’t the tallest, Nichols is very tenacious and doesn’t shy away from engaging in duels.

“The youngster has some room for improvement positionally but overall he is developing very well.”

Obviously it’s still very early in Nichols’ career, but the signs are very promising.

Hopefully he’ll step up to the Under-21s fully next season, and if he continues to progress, it won’t be long before he’s training with the seniors from time to time.

Let’s see what happens in the coming years, but so far, it looks as though Nichols is a player to watch.

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