One 2 Watch – Arsenal’s Wellington Silva

by Kevin Coleman

Wellington Silva | Arsenal

17 | Brazil | Forward

Arsenal has always been a club renowned for nurturing talent, and developing them into prized players. The current generation of Arsenal youth is beginning to sprout, as the likes of Jack Wilshere, Kieron Gibbs, Carlos Vela and Wojciech Szczęsny get more playing time, added to players such as Aaron Ramsey who have been brought in after excelling from an early age at another club.

Cesc Fabregas is undoubtedly the most famous imported talent into the Arsenal system, joining the youth side as a 16-year-old from Barcelona. There is little need to mention what Cesc Fabregas has gone on to achieve since his switch from Catalonia, but one can admit it’ll take somebody special to be held in the same regard as Cesc at Arsenal for a long time. The mantle may have to be passed on in the coming years however, after Arsenal discovered a rare diamond out of the never-ending mine that is Brazil’s selection of youth prospects – Wellington Silva.

The Brazilian attacker first caught scouts attentions at an international U15 event, where he scored seven goals in three games. At the time, Wellington was in the youth system at Fluminense, who’s most recent well known exports were Real Madrid left back Marcelo, and Manchester United twins Fabio and Rafael. Wellington was ultimately brought over to London for a two-week trial at Arsenal by the reliable Sandro Orlandelli, who was responsible for the signings of Denilson and Pedro Botelho, and may have come up with the goods yet again in Wellington. During the trial, the young striker played and impressed mightily with the Arsenal U16 side, including a four goal haul against Norwich. Wellington signed officially for Arsenal on January 1st of this year, to be completed when he turns 18 next month.

Since day one, the formatting of the deal has scratched people’s heads, with FIFA’s policies on the movement of under eighteens between continents creating some restrictions to his transfer. It was originally believed that Silva would be allowed to sign for the Gunners after his eighteenth birhtday, this January, however work permit problems have arisen recently and it is now believed that the young star will be loaned out to a European Club for the next few seasons – much like the situation with Carlos Vela, who spent two seasons in Spain – first with Salamanca and then with Osasuna. FIFA initially granted him a visa to play in England, which was then rescinded. If an appeal is lodged from Arsenal Football Club, an overturn of FIFA’s decision wouldn’t be unlikely.

Leaving the technicalities to one side, one thing that can’t be appealed is Wellington’s ability on the pitch. He has consistently stood out for the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A side, including scoring a goal on his debut against Friburguense in the Campeonato Carioca. His most endearing performance came in the same competition against Sao Bernardo. After his side went 2-0 down, Silva stood up to bring it back to 3-2 almost single-handedly – scoring the first goal and helped setup the other two in sublime fashion. The second goal included a superb Ronaldinho-esque ‘no look pass’ after a fantastic midfield run (2:20 in the video below).

Wellington played only seventeen times for Fluminense, but the attacker, nicknamed Ciel, thoroughly impressed and I’m sure Arsenal fans will be anxious to see him line out for the senior side at the Emirates very soon. Wellington was a part of the reserve side this season, taking part in behind-closed-door friendlies against the Manchester United reserves and the Dagenham & Redbridge senior team, scoring four goals in total.

The 17-year-old is a two footed attacker who can operate on either flank, but isn’t unknown to playing up front on his own or behind the striker. He has phenomenal speed and trickery and is what many may regard as a modern wide player, cutting inside regularly and drifting centrally, but equally as devastating down the line. The extra dimension comes in his adaptability to a number of positions, but in one word his position can be described as ‘attacker’, because that is what he is best at regardless of where you position him, and his goal and assist statistics, albeit at a very low level, are quite phenomenal.

Even though he is in his element with the ball at his feet, creating and scoring goals and being an offensive threat, he doesn’t shy away from the donkey work on the field and is quite willing to track back and run hard to help his team on either side of the ball.

It is unfortunate that we won’t be seeing Wellington line-out in the red of Arsenal in the near future, but according to the official website they will look to nurture his development closely as he fights for game time elsewhere in Europe. It will be interesting to see what club he is loaned out to, but we will most likely be monitoring his progress in the Spanish Segunda division, or perhaps even the Primera division if a top tier side is willing to take him under their wing.

Read previous features: Mapou Yanga-M’Biwa (Montpellier) and Xherdan Shaqiri (FC Basel).

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