Miguel Azeez is notone to aim low.
That confidencehas helped him stand out from the crowd during his impressive rise through the Gunners’ Hale End academy, and it iswhat now has him standing on the verge of his first-team bow just two months after turning 18.
“I would love to be the best football player in the world,” he said, during an interview with Spanish journalist Guillem Balague. “I have the attributes, I have the work rate so it’s up to me to keep working hard.
“I never doubt myself because if you have doubts it’s hard to reach your top potential. My mum and dad have always told me that you need to believe in yourself and to carry on working towards your dream, because nothing is impossible.”
Azeez has long been viewed within Arsenal’s academy as a player with the potential to go to become a star.
He first arrived as a five-year-old, rejecting overtures from Chelsea and West Ham to join the club he supported, and soon started making waves at Hale End.
He was fast-tracked at times, playing with age groups well beyond his own, just as Bukayo Saka had been duringhis own rapid ascent towards the first-team.
Saka is obviously now well ahead of Azeez in terms of the pecking order, but the England Under-18s international is focused on being the next product from the Hale End production line to force his way into the first-team picture in north London.
He is now training with the senior squad on a regular basis and travelled to Norway last week where he was an unused substitute as the Gunners beat Molde 3-0 to guarantee passage through to the Europa League knockout stages.
With qualification now secured, Azeez has every chance of making his senior debut – either against Rapid Vienna on Thursday night or in the final groupgame at Dundalk in a week’s time.
But even if he is given an opportunity to impress by Mikel Arteta, it would not be cause for a big celebration from a player who is always looking to the future.
“I’m never satisfied with what I do,” he said. “If there is more to do, then I will do it.
“I’m always the first to arrive at training and the last to leave and do any extras I can to make myself the best possible player that I can be. That has to be your mindset if you want to be the very best.”
Azeez has become a key player for the U23s this season having only signed his first professional contract in September last year.
He initially developed as a box-to-box midfielder with a keen eye for goal, but he is now operating more as a holding midfielder.
Arsenal’s academy manager, Per Mertesacker, was the man who spotted Azeez’s potential to excel as a No.6, and the midfielder has notlooked back since.
A student of the game, he watches football to try and learn from the best. Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira is one player he looks up to, but there is another who really stands out.
“Sergio Busquets,” said the Gunners youngster. “I think he has been the best holding midfielder for a very long time. He always seems to have space around him, always plays with his head up, one step ahead. For me, I like to put some of his game into mine.
“When players run at 100mph they can’t really look at what is going on and sometimes you need to play with a bit of composure.”
Should Azeez make his debut in the coming weeks, there will be plenty in Spain and Nigeria who will be keeping a close eye on his progress.
Although he has represented England at youth level through the U18s, he also qualifies for Spain through his mother and Nigeria through his father.
Both countries have made it known they would like him to represent them going forward, and the teenager has yet to make a decision on where his allegiances will lie at senior level.
Source : goal.com