Last week saw Arsenal award two further first professional contacts to exciting talents turning 17. One was for our previous interview subject Charlie Patino and the other for an exciting Hale End graduate, central defender Zane Monlouis. Timely therefore for this week’s Youth Star catch up with resident expert John Williamson (@willow1860) to on Monlouis.
I must confess to little knowledge here John, other than he has a name I would associate with a film star, so I hope you can fill is all in. Firstly, I assume having watched him the awarding of a professional contract cane as no surprise, but do you know how long he was given? I have learned in recent weeks that three years is the optimum for special talents.
JW: It certainly was no surprise to me, as I have stated before, last season’s U16s are collectively the best bunch of players I have seen come up through our Academy.
I really haven’t a clue of the contract length, but as another fine player with great potential, I’d imagine and like to think it’s the full 3 years. When the Club signs a player up at the first given opportunity, it is usually a sure sign that they want that player for the long term, Zane certainly falls into that category.
I note he was playing up at U18s last season while still a schoolboy. Is this down to ability and or physical attributes or both? I looks tall in the picture with Per and is over 6ft1 now and I assume still growing?
JW: Zane made his under 18 debut as a 15-year-old in a match against Chelsea at the end of the 2017/18 season; even though it was a young team, it shows how highly Zane is rated and the confidence shown in him.
He was certainly playing for them on merit and rightly so, though his height of course, helps in his natural centre back role.
Recently he has earned a call up for this country and played 3 matches for England U17s which bodes well. I gather he is a cultured ball playing centre back more than a traditional old-style central defender. Is this correct?
JW: Yes, Zane is another player who is technically gifted as well as being strong. He is an intelligent player who likes to play the ball out from the back. I feel he will be able, when called upon, to slot into the Arteta style of football.
Having watched a short video of his highlights I would make 3 observations. He seems very two-footed, a huge asset, he seemingly is unafraid to use skill or a trick to manoeuvre out of tight situations and he has a Luiz style long ball in his locker. Compilations showing best highlights can be misleading so I would rather hear your thoughts.
JW: Zane is a player that has been with the Academy from an early age. Though he joined as an 8-year-old, I first saw him play as an U13; back in those early days, he was playing as a right back, I have also seen him play on the left.
As you alluded to, Zane is comfortable using either foot, he is also comfortable playing on the right or left of the centre back positions. Zane also likes to get forward when set pieces allow, using his height and strength to cause confusion to the opposition.
Monlouis in action (Thanks BanhkhucTV)
Having watched him progress live who does he remind you of, playing style wise? It can be Arsenal or non-Arsenal. Looks a bit John Stone like to me.
JW: He reminds me of a Marcel Desailly type player, comfortable under pressure and thoughtful of his next ball as well as having the skill to execute long and short passes.
We have a surplus of players in the senior squad in his position as well as at least three, including Medley and Ballard from the U23s on loan. I assume this season is about establishing a secure partnership at U18 and pushing for U23 action later in the campaign?
JW: As a ‘first year scholar’ once again, I see Zane looking to establish himself as a regular for the U18s with an odd appearance for the U23s. With the EFL Trophy (U21s) as well as 14 U23s now out on loan, there is plenty of opportunity for Zane and the other U18s to make their mark at a higher level.
There is also a new U17 Premier League Cup competition which will help bridge the gap for the first-year scholars and young pros.
Always tricky with the younger players but you were confident to predict a big future at the club for his teammate Patino. So, its Willowmeter time John. Where are you putting Zane Monlouis on your 0-20 scale mate?
JW: Zane is another that if he applies himself and continues to progress, has an opportunity to make it to the top. 16/20.
As always thanks to John and we will be back soon
Passionate fifty-something Arsenal supporter who has been making the journey to N5 regularly since the early 1980s – although his first game was in 1976. Always passionate when talking about The Arsenal, Dave decided to send a guest blog to Gunnersphere in the summer of 2011 and has not stopped writing about the Gunners since.
He set up his own site – 1 Nil Down 2 One Up – in February 2012, which he moved on in 2016 to concentrate on freelance writing and building Gunners Town, which he launched with Paul in 2014.
The objective of GT was to be new and fresh and to give a platform for likeminded passionate Arsenal fans wishing to write about their team. Dave still of course, writes for the site himself and advises the ever-changing writing crew.