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Arsenal have made a decision on the future of several youth stars, one of which opens the door for a potential new left-back

The Arsenal academy has produced a brilliant array of talent that has even led to a significant profit in the transfer window. Players that are still having an impact on the club in the first team have followed a long line of graduate before them.

However, year after year, Arsenal need to make the difficult decision to move on players they feel it is not the right decision to renew and continue with the club. Joel Lopez is one such player who the club confirmed today has left following the expiration of his contract.

It was telling that the most senior orthodox left-back was often left out of the senior bench and instead Mikel Arteta favoured the likes of Mazeed Ogungbo. Lopez had faced injury issues that had affected his development.

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Joining from Barcelona in 2018, the club fought hard to get him but unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out. The biggest sign that Lopez’s Arsenal career might be ending came several months earlier, however.

One of the only players to arrive at the club in the January transfer window was West Brom’s left-back youth star, Lino Sousa. The England under-16s international made his PL2 debut for Arsenal and scored on his first start during a 2-2 draw with Blackburn.

He then scored in successive matches against eventual league winners Manchester City. This began to catch the attention of Mikel Arteta football.london understands. Having turned 17 in January, what Sousa is producing at the under-23 level already is very impressive.

By allowing Lopez to leave, this opens the door for a future potential pathway for Sousa. He will compete with Ogungbo next season for the left-back or left-wing-back spot in the under-23s.

However, with preseason on the horizon, perhaps there is an opportunity for Sousa to stake a claim to get on the plane with the senior players as they travel to the USA to play Everton, Orlando City and Chelsea. First-team opportunities should also give Sousa hope.

There are suggestions that 2021 signing Nuno Tavares could be sent on loan. It was clear the 22-year-old had experienced difficulties during last season.

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