Who is Arsenal’s Next Big Thing Charlie Patino?
By Rob Worthington (Deputy Editor)
Off the back of a week to remember for the 17-year-old, Charlie Patino’s name has firmly hit the Arsenal-related headlines in recent days. The youngster has triggered excitement among Arsenal fans after making his first-team debut against Brentford in a behind closed doors friendly last week and thereafter captaining Arsenal’s Under-23 side days later in an EFL Trophy encounter with Swindon Town.
So, who is the midfielder who Arsenal scout Sean O’Connor perceives to be ‘the best player who has ever walked through the doors’ at Arsenal’s academy?
Competing with the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City, Arsenal won the battle for Patino’s signature back in 2015 when the Englishman was just 11. Many have pointed to the striking resemblance in playing styles between Patino and a young Jack Wilshere who of course also graduated from the Hale End Academy. Funnily enough, both players also made a move from Luton Town to Arsenal at a young age.
Despite much clamour surrounding fellow academy graduates such as Omari Hutchinson and Miguel Azeez, it appears to be the case that Patino is rated most highly at Arsenal despite his youthfulness. In an interview with Charles Watts from Goal.com earlier this year, O’Connor’s scouting colleague at Arsenal, Brian Stapleton, described Patino as “the best kid I’ve ever seen.”
You may have noted that Patino’s surname doesn’t sound stereotypically English. There’s a reason for that. Patino’s father, Jules, is a Spaniard. As a result, the 17-year-old didn’t just grow up idolising the English game’s great midfield talent of the late 2000s and 2010s, but also midfielders from his father’s country of origin.
Patino’s admiration for Spain’s great midfield talents of the 21st century is reflected by the silkiness of his game. While the similitude to Jack WIlshere’s game is undoubtedly of prominence, it is easy to draw comparisons to the likes of Xaxi and Andres Iniesta as well. In an interview with Arsenal.com, he also identified Çesc Fabregas and Mikel Arteta as childhood heroes, before describing Santi Cazorla as “something else.”
Patino drifts past opponents as if they’re not there, he has an eye for a pass and his close control is a joy to behold. He personifies the aesthetically pleasing deep-lying central midfielder. He is a breed of player which is dying out in the modern age, so those aforementioned players will likely be raising a glass to Patino when he fully breaks onto the scene in the men's game.
A further indicator of Patino’s promise is the consistency in which he has played at higher age groups coming through the ranks. At just 14, he captained an England under-16 side against Spain, according to The Mirror. Meanwhile, as a 16 and 17 and year-old, he’s already made 12 appearances for Arsenal’s under-23 team. Some feat for someone who is still a child in the eyes the UK government.
Arsenal are running a little light on the ground in central midfield in terms of senior options as it stands. Therefore, opportunities could arise for young Charlie Patino in the not too distant future. With Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny set to depart for AFCON in early 2022, that’ll leave Patino at least fourth in the engine room pecking order during the period in which the African pair are away.
If the track records of those Patino has been likened to are anything to go by, with both Çesc Fabregas and Jack Wilshere picking up regular first team minutes in their mid-to-late teens, it may not be too long until Patino is a name which is regularly seen on Arsenal’s matchday squad list.
As Reiss Nelson wrote on his Instagram recently, Charlie Patino -‘remember the name.’ One expects it’s only a matter of time until Charlie Patino’s name is easier to remember than to forget. An exciting prospect.