IT'S almost impossible to tip an 18-year-old to make a breakthrough into a Premier League giant's first team, stay there and become a success.
But the outrageously gifted Charlie Patino has all the ingredients to become an Arsenal legend like Liam Brady, say Gunners insiders.
The 5ft 11in midfielder is said to boast similarities to Manchester City's Phil Foden in the way he dribbles with the ball.
Left-footed Patino is also rated as a better prospect than Jack Wilshere was at 16 by Arsenal sources, with the pair following a similar path to North London.
Earlier this season, he humiliated Manchester United stars Phil Jones and Dean Henderson in an U23 game the Gunners won 3-1 – slaloming through the Red Devils defence to score a sumptuous goal.
His rapid rise has prompted reports that Spain are aiming to poach the England U18 for their own national team.
Barcelona are also said to be monitoring his progress – with hopes they can lure him away from the Emirates.
Ahead of a potential senior debut tonight against Sunderland in the League Cup, SunSport take a closer look at one of Arsenal's most exciting prospects in years.
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FROM LUTON WITH LOVE
Like the former Arsenal darling Wilshere, Watford-born Patino got his start at Luton Town.
Aged 11 the bigger clubs started swooning around the playmaker – with Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham all clamouring to secure the young boy's services.
But he chose the Gunners in 2015, who had to pay the Hatters a £10,000 compensation fee, because of their proximity to his family home in St Albans.
His Spanish father Julio told Luton Herald & Post at the time: "Opportunities like this don’t come too often so you’ve got to take them and we’re absolutely delighted for him.
“When clubs like Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City, Tottenham, come knocking on your door, there’s a reason behind it and you can’t just say ‘no thanks, I’m quite happy where I am.’
"Luton Town didn’t want to lose Charlie, they absolutely love him there, but they realised for him to develop further he needs to move on."
Charlie soon rose through the ranks for Arsenal's youth sides, playing in a higher age group for both club and country.
As a 14-year-old, he captained England in an U16 match against Spain.
While at the same age, Patino also starred for Arsenal's U18s against Chelsea.
Before the coronavirus pandemic halted youth football, he had broken into the U18s permanently.
In a drab FA Youth Cup tie against Cheltenham Town, that was ruined by heavy rain and gale force winds, Patino was the standout player.
The game went to penalties after it finished 0-0, and it was brave Patino who scored the decisive spot-kick.
Like Brady, Patino has the ability to be a game-changer and orchestrates play from the middle of the park.
He is extremely comfortable on the ball and can hurt the opposition with a defence-splitting pass from deep and in a No10 role.
His work-rate has been commended, as well as his respectful and polite nature off the pitch.
In style, because of his frame, Patino has been compared to England star Phil Foden.
Arteta, who worked with Foden at Manchester City, would be the best judge of that.
TRAINING WITH THE FIRST TEAM
The Spaniard is said to have been mightily impressed by what he's seen so far of Patino, who signed scholarship terms last year.
Arteta also had the youngster training alongside the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Willian to familiarise him with the first team set-up.
With Arteta's willingness to give kids a chance, it might not be long before Patino gets his opportunity in North London.
Wilshere holds the record for youngest ever Arsenal debutant at 16 years and 256 days.
Patino won't break that. But he might fulfil the promise Jack could have done in the years to come.
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