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Isaac Hayden; Arsenal's future leader?

Over the last few years, Arsenal have had a lot of talented players in their Academy but most of them didn’t make it at the club, instead seeking their fortunes elsewhere. Some of them were released and others were either loaned or sold to other clubs but this year the academy has a different feel to it. This year Arsenal have youngsters that are very close to the first team and look more likely than previous generations to make the grade.

This week on Goonersphere, I will be taking a closer look at Isaac Hayden, the promising young leader Arsenal have in their Academy. 

Isaac Hayden was born on 22nd March in 1995 in Chelmsford and he originally joined the Arsenal Academy when he was only 9 years old from Southend. Isaac is a versatile player who has been capped by England up to U18 level, also he was an established member of England’s U17s last season. He’s comfortable playing at centre-back or in central-midfield.

Previously in his youth career he featured at right-back and as a playmaker. Last season Isaac began the season with the U18s. During his impressive first season as a scholar he gained experience and was soon promoted to the U21s on a regular basis. After being promoted to the U21s he played regulary during the second half of the 2012-2013 and formed an outstanding partnership with Sead Hajrovic who was released by the club last summer.

Isaac was one of the stars of the club’s run to the semi-final of the NextGen Series. In that competition, his contribution to the team was enormous. He turned in really impressive performances, covering different positions. He impressed the Arsenal coaching staff with his reading of the game and after some great performances he was invited to train with the first team a couple of times towards the end of last season. In the March of the 2012/2013 season Hayden signed his first professional contract with the club.

This season, Hayden continued his brilliant form and has established himself as an important player in the U21 team. After his impressive 2012/2013 season, Hayden was given the honour of the captain’s armband on a few occasions. When he was the captain, he stood up for the team, fought hard and gave his team mates support when it was needed. Although he has started his career in the holding midfield role, the coaches at Arsenal have moulded Hayden into a commanding central defender worthy of the captain’s armband. Arsene Wenger has described Hayden as a player whose key assets are concentration, intelligence and strength. Hayden made his full debut for Arsenal on 25th September in the Capital One Cup match against West Bromwich Albion.

Isaac Hayden has made no secret of his admiration for former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira and cites the French World Cup winner - along with Roy Keane - as the players who’ve had the greatest influence on his own style of play. Despite his admiration for Vieira and Keane, the coaches at the club have been playing Hayden in the centre-back position and his qualities at centre-back are similar to Arsenal’s German defender, Per Mertesacker, who has been Arsene’s best defensive signing over the last few years.

Mertesacker’s passion for the club, the beautiful game and commanding style of play reminds some of Tony Adams. Hayden could be the academy product who can succeed Mertesacker and Adams in every single way. He is passionate, a real leader of the team, always fights for the team and cares about the squad. He’s one of the best players in the Academy at the moment and also one of the most consistent players the Academy has. I rate Hayden very highly and I expect a lot of him in the future. If Hayden continues to play like this, we should expect to see him in Arsenal’s pre-season matches in the summer and we could see him play more often next season. I rate Hayden very highly and I expect a lot of him in the future.

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for the beautiful photos to

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Tags: Arsenal Youth, Arsenal Academy, NextGen, Isaac Hayden

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