Scout who unearthed Wilshere says Arsenal U18 ace is "best he’s seen" at Gunners
The scout who discovered Jack Wilshere for Arsenal insists a current youngster at the club is the best he's ever seen.
Wilshere was one of the brightest youth prospects in Gunners history, emerging from the academy in 2008 to become their youngest ever senior debutant at the age of 16 years and 256 days.
The midfielder went on to make 197 appearances for Arsenal, producing a number of iconic performances before a series of injuries took their toll on his career.
But now the Gunners scout who unearthed Wilshere, Sean O'Connor, believes they have a new gem in 17-year-old starlet Charlie Patino.
Patino, who operates as a holding midfielder, was first spotted by another Arsenal scout, Brian Stapleton, at the age of 11.
He has since world his way through the club's youth ranks, making his Under-23s debut towards the end of last season before a hamstring injury cut his campaign short.
"Of all the years I’ve been scouting, he’s the best kid I’ve ever seen,” Stapleton told Goal.
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“I got a tip off about Charlie from a guy, so I went over there and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. He was 11 and I think he was playing in the Under-13s, and I was like ‘wow’.
“His first touch was unbelievable, his vision, his awareness of space. He was way above his years, he was on another planet to anyone else on the pitch.
“I made a phone call to my head of my department at Arsenal at the time, Sean O’Connor. He asked what I thought and I said, ‘well, I’m not coming back again. I don’t need to see any more, you need to sign this kid straight away.’”
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Patino is considered the most exciting prospect in Arsenal's academy right now, and while injury denied him the chance to impress first-team boss Mikel Arteta in pre-season he is expected to make the jump into senior football soon.
Stapleton added: “Sean O’Connor discovered Jack Wilshere and he said to me that Charlie is the best player who has ever walked through the doors at Hale End,” he said.
“The kid has got so much potential, but he’s not there yet.
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“There is a pathway that Arsenal have got for him and he’s probably going down the same pathway as Phil Foden at Manchester City.
“Charlie has an amazing awareness of where he is on the pitch and where other players are on the pitch. His vision is so good, he can split a defence with a pass.
“And he has that desire to do well. When he’s on that pitch he can be an animal, he’s a winner.”
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