Yunus Musah is currently in the midst of one of the biggest moments of his young career, playing in the World Cup with the United States.
The Valencia midfielder represented England at youth level, but his nationality switch to the country he was born in means he’ll now face the one he grew up in on the biggest stage.
But before that switch to the USMNT and before his move to Valencia, Musah was in the Arsenal academy.
The Gunners were keen to keep him, as Jack Wilshere has now publicly confirmed.
“My assistant coach with the Arsenal Under-18s, Adam Birchall, always tells me what a good player he was in our academy — and how they were disappointed to lose him,” Wilshere admitted. “But that’s life.
“We’re delighted that our academy has turned out such a talented player and wish him all the best, though perhaps he can take it easy tonight!”
There didn’t seem to be any hard feelings between Arsenal and Musah when the youngster decided to leave. Writing in an Instagram post at the time, Musah said:
“I have decided to take a different step in my pathway to achieving my dream. I can’t express how much help and trust the club gave me over my entire eight years at the club. I’ll never forget who helped me reach this point in my [career].
“Thank you for everything to my teammates and all staff members. Once a Gunner, always a Gunner.”
Arsenal couldn’t do much about Musah’s departure in the end. They’d given him plenty of opportunities well above his age group, and they wanted him to sign an extension, but he saw a pathway to the first team at Valencia and took his chance.
Perhaps the 19-year-old might end up back in north London someday though.
“You never know,” Musah said recently of an Arsenal return. “I had a great time at Arsenal developing there, I still have friends there, the coaches were great, being an Arsenal player in general is great.
“I loved playing for Arsenal. I’ve nothing against the club and if one day it turns out to be that it’s time to go back then it’s possible.
“For now I’m really happy at Valencia and I’m looking forward to carrying this season on in the same way we’re doing now.”
For now, Musah is likely to face Bukayo Saka in Friday night’s World Cup clash. Former Arsenal player and youth coach Freddie Ljungberg is excited to see the two take centre stage.
“It’s a special day for both of them,” Ljungberg told the Daily Mail.
“It is amazing to see two players from the Arsenal academy that played with each other from when they were 14 or 15 years old to now playing against each other when they are 19 and 21 for two different countries and on the biggest stage of the World Cup.”