There are a number of ways that Arsenal and indeed most other professional football clubs take children into their football academies. The most common ways that Arsenal selects its youth players are through tryouts held at the club and through the club's youth scouting network. The Academy was a founding member of the FA Premier Youth League in 1997, and Arsenal's team won the inaugural title.
Tryouts for the academy are held annually at Arsenal's youth development center. If a player impresses the staff at this point then the academy can start coaching the player straight away. Players as young as 5 or 6 have been picked up by Arsenal this way.
Through scouting the Arsenal academy look to sign youngsters from outside the London area. Arsenal can take players from other youth academies in England and can also buy foreign youth players from abroad. Usually the youth ranks are composed of British players but in recent years Arsenal has brought a few young foreign stars through its ranks. The most notable being Cesc Fabregas, who joined Arsenal from Barcelona's academy for a fee of just £250,000 at the age of 16.
Notable Arsenal Youth Team Graduates
- Tony Adams (England, 66 caps)
- Andy Cole (England, 15 caps)
- Ashley Cole (England, 96 caps)
- Kieran Gibbs (England, 2 caps)
- Martin Keown (England, 43 caps)
- Jack Wilshere (England, 5 caps)
- Wojciech Szczesny (Poland, 11 caps)
- Cesc Fabregas (Spain, 66 caps)
- Sebastian Larsson (Sweden, 43 caps)
- Johan Djourou (Switzerland, 32 caps)