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Photo: Arteta calls up Arsenal prodigy who's 'among the best in the country' to training pre-Zurich
Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Photo: Arteta calls up Arsenal prodigy who's 'among the best in the country' to training pre-Zurich

Arsenal get their Europa League campaign under way this evening against FC Zurich at St Gallen’s Kybunpark.

The Gunners will be eager to hit the ground running in Europe and bounce back from their first defeat of the season.

In Arsenal’s last training session before heading to Switzerland, Arteta called up several youngsters.

These, according to football.london, were Matt Smith, Amario Cozier-Duberry, Catalin Cirjan and Lino Sousa.

Indeed, the Arsenal media team’s training photos featured Sousa.

Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

And The Athletic has reported that Sousa is in Arsenal’s travelling pack for their Group A opener.

They speculated that the 17-year-old ‘could just be travelling for the experience and Friday’s training session, and may not feature on the bench.’

As per The Express, Sousa has not been registered in the Gunners squad for the competition and therefore cannot play.

Nonetheless, it’ll be an exciting occasion for one of the most highly rated youngsters in the Arsenal setup.

Arsenal may have ‘Jordi Alba 2.0’ in their ranks

The Gunners signed Sousa in the January transfer window, bringing him to north London from West Brom.

The full-back made an immediate impact at age level for Arsenal, playing for both the Under-18s and the Under-23s.

Indeed, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta promoted Sousa to first-team training on a couple of occasions last term.

After travelling to Germany in pre-season, the teenager kept his place in Mehmet Ali’s Under-21s team, following Betsy’s departure to Crawley.

Back in February last year, The Sun branded him as Jordi Alba 2.0.

They claimed he’s ‘in the mould’ of the Barcelona defender, who was one of the best left-backs in the world during his prime.

Meanwhile, The Athletic reported that people at West Brom felt Sousa is ‘outstanding’ and ‘among the best in the country’ at his age level.

Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

“Made a big, big impression”

Charlies Watts believes Arsenal’s decision to offload Joel Lopez was to enable Sousa to become an U23s regular.

“I think the main reason for (Arsenal letting Lopez go) is probably Lino Sousa,” he said on his YouTube channel in the summer.

“(He) made a big, big impression in the second half of the season, really hugely talented player.

“Lots of people at the club rave about him when you speak to them about how good this kid is.

“Although he’s only 17 and can still play for the Under-18s, I think, judging by how good he’s been and how highly-rated he is, they want to get him fast-tracked plenty of minutes for the Under-23s as soon as possible.

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