Joel Lopez: Profile
Name: Joel Lopez
Date of birth: Mar 31, 2002
Joel Lopez: Introduction
Arsenal have had a habit of nicking young Spaniards from the Barcelona youth academy and the next in the line is full back Joel Lopez. Highly rated and yet still raw, Arsenal believe they’ve got a star in the making in the youth academy who, at just 18 years of age, is already playing in the most senior level of the youth system.
Joel Lopez: Background
Joel Lopez came through the Barcelona youth academy joining at the age of 9. He like a couple of other famous Spaniards have since left Catalonia, instead choosing to follow a path through North London.
Whilst Barcelona were supposedly keen to keep the full-back and there was reported interest from outside of Spain, Arsenal were the team which managed to snap up the youngster.
‘The day has come to say goodbye to what has been my home for the last 7 years. Thanks to FCBarcelona, it will be the club that always carries in my heart the wonderful moments that I have lived with my Colleagues, Physios, Coaches, Delegates, Executives. Magnificent people who have made me feel welcomed from day one.
It has been a difficult decision but after contemplating it with my family, I have made the decision to leave and start a new stage as a footballer with great enthusiasm. Thanks to all of you who have always been there,’ he wrote on social media upon departing from Barcelona.
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Lopez arrived at just 16 years of age but by 18 was already playing in the under-23 squad and included in Arsenal’s Europa League group on a number of occasions under Unai Emery.
He has followed in the footsteps of the likes of Hector Bellerin and Cesc Fabregas, taking the move from La Masia to London Colney. He has much to learn still, but could see opportunity in the first team having already trained with the squad on a number of occasions, and the club currently light in his department ahead of the 2021 summer window.
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Expert insight on Joel Lopez
101 spoke to Next Generation Arsenal an expert on all things youth football surrounding the club.
‘Joel Lopez is a player who has carried the weight of expectation for the majority of his time at the club. Following the blueprint of the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Hector Bellerin isn’t easy, however Lopez is now in the position where a few first team injuries could elevate him into the picture.
Is he ready? His performances in the U23s this season have seen some adversity but also some hopeful displays. The biggest issue Joel faced was finding some consistency, he’s struggled with injuries and the physical side of the game in general.
In terms of technical ability, his strengths are clear. He’s always graceful in possession and can move well with the ball at pace. The Spaniard is always keen to get forward and make an impact in the final third and he’s shown quality in his final ball.
Defending does not always come easy to the 18-year-old. Positioning and 1-1 duels have often seen Lopez leaving a lot to be desired. It’s clear he needs more experience in the PL2 to further his development, it would be a big risk to play him in the first team currently, but one that could go either way.’
Tactical Overview of Joel Lopez
The modern iteration of a full-back in football has changed in comparison to its predecessor. Previously it was a more a defensive minded position but the last couple of decades has seen the role evolved into a more attacking concept on the field providing additional width for offensive plays.
The reason for this mention is that specifically Lopez is a player that encapsulates that focus on offensive play. The Spaniard likes to be up and down the wings and creating opportunities for his teammates in the form of crosses, through balls and attacking runs.
An ambitious player, but one still certainly developing and refining his skills. Crossing has become a key part of the senior side at Arsenal and an attribute Lopez is trying to integrate more into his game.
Whilst progressing forwards with the ball in possession, Lopez does tend to try and find through balls and pockets of space where he can play passes into his teammates to run on to.
One of the key criticisms of Lopez by Next Generation Arsenal was regarding the full-back’s defensive capabilities. Yes, he does need to improve his positioning and consistency as a defender but there are examples where glimmers of hope shine through and potential can be seen hence why Arsenal rate the Spaniard so highly.
There is no doubt that Lopez is still a young player with very much to learn in the game but there are certainly promising signs from the Spaniard that he could have a future in the Arsenal first team. And if not, Arsenal will have a strong sellable asset on their hands which they could look to sell in future transfer windows.
Joel Lopez: Social sites
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This article was edited by Benjamin Newman.
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