Where are they now? The 10 youngest Arsenal players handed Champions League debuts by Arsene Wenger

During Arsene Wenger’s tenure at Arsenal, the club competed in 19 consecutive Champions League campaigns, and Wenger gave many young players their debuts in the competition. Arsenal came close to winning the Champions League in the 2005-2006 season but narrowly lost to Barcelona in the final. Despite not lifting the trophy, Arsenal had numerous memorable moments in the Champions League under Wenger. We have delved into the archives to uncover the 10 youngest players that Wenger handed Champions League debuts to at Arsenal, and we reveal where they are today.

1. Jack Wilshere – Arsenal’s original starboy, Wilshere made his first Champions League appearance at just 16 years old. Unfortunately, injuries cut short his promising career, and he retired from professional football last year. Wilshere now serves as the head coach of the Arsenal under-18 team.

2. Ainsley Maitland-Niles – The versatile Arsenal academy graduate made his Champions League debut at 17. Despite making over 100 appearances for Arsenal, Maitland-Niles failed to establish himself as a regular and recently left the club to join Lyon.

3. Serge Gnabry – Gnabry made his Champions League debut at 17, but Arsenal eventually let him go after an underwhelming loan spell. Since then, he has thrived at Bayern Munich, winning 13 trophies, including the Champions League.

4. Cesc Fabregas – Fabregas, who made his European debut at just 17, was one of the brightest prospects in the Champions League. Despite not winning the trophy, Fabregas had a successful career and is now a coach for the Como U19 and B team.

5. Theo Walcott – Walcott scored numerous Champions League goals for Arsenal, making his debut at 17. After 13 seasons with the Gunners, Walcott retired this summer and has transitioned into a punditry role on Sky Sports.

6. Aaron Ramsey – Ramsey scored his first European goal at 17 in the Champions League. He went on to make over 350 appearances for Arsenal and has since played for Juventus, Rangers, Nice, and is now at Cardiff City.

7. Gedion Zelalem – After making his Champions League debut at 17, Zelalem failed to live up to the hype and left Arsenal. He has since played for Sporting Kansas City, New York City FC, and is currently with Den Bosch in the Dutch second division.

8. Stefan O’Connor – O’Connor made his only senior appearance for Arsenal in the Champions League. He went on several loan spells before joining Newcastle, but injuries forced him to retire at 23.

9. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Oxlade-Chamberlain scored in his Champions League debut at 18 and later moved to Liverpool in 2017. Injuries have derailed his progress, but he currently plays for Besiktas.

10. Armand Traore – Traore made his Champions League debut at 18 but struggled to establish himself as a regular under Wenger. After stints with QPR, Nottingham Forest, and Cardiff, Traore retired at 31.

These players represent the youthful talent that Wenger nurtured during his time at Arsenal, each with their own unique journey in the world of football.


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