PREMIER - Arsenal: Mertesacker details development plan for Charlie Patino
Arsenal academy chief Per Mertesacker has explained keeping hold of Charlie Patino this season.
Many had predicted the 17 year-old midfielder would follow fellow young talent Miguel Azeez out the door for a season long-loan, but the Gunners academy hierarchy opted to keep Patino in North London.
Former World Cup winner Mertesacker has shed light on the reasoning behind why it was deemed better for Patino's development to keep him at Hale End.
Speaking to football.london, the ex-German international revealed: "We always knew that Charlie is very talented with what he can produce for our youth teams.
"The link with the first team was always there and he got some exposure this summer. He had some injuries as well. Sometimes it's not always that easy to track a player where everything works out for him nice.
"Towards the end of the season he had an injury, so he came back into the system, we kind of exposed him, wanted to give him a proper pre-season.
"His plan was always to stay with the under-23s and then be exposed to the first team at some stages. That was always the plan for this season for him so there was not a loan conversation to be made yet."
Mertesacker insists that there is no need to rush Patino's route to senior football, claiming: "We want him – which he's doing at the moment – to dominate 23s games and be exposed to first-team friendly games and hopefully to a couple of competitive games.
"He played against Swindon [in the Papa John's Trophy] and was one of the best players. These are the games he needs to dominate and be exposed to, to make the next step.
"We didn't want to go a step ahead of where he was actually at with his progress."