Mikel Arteta sends message to Arsenal fans as excitement builds around Charlie Patino

Mikel Arteta has reassured Arsenal fans that Charlie Patino is close to making his first-team breakthrough as excitement continues to build around the youngster.

Patino was not included in the squad which comfortably beat AFC Wimbledon 3-0 in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening.

Many supporters were hoping to catch a glimpse of the 17-year-old midfielder who has been impressing for the club’s Under-23 side this season.

Arteta made 10 changes to the side which beat Burnley 1-0 in the Premier League on the weekend as he gave his fringe players a chance to impress.

Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring in the 11th minute from the penalty spot after Gabriel Martinelli was fouled in the area.

© Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images Charlie Patino has been training with the Arsenal first team this season

The game then passed by with little action until Bukayo Saka set up fellow substitute Emile Smith Rowe to make it 2-0 after 77 minutes and Eddie Nketiah backheeled in a third minutes later.

It was a straightforward night at the Emirates Stadium, but given the hype around Patino, some fans may have left disappointed not to have seen him play.

“He was very close,” Arteta said when asked about Patino’s omission.

“But at the end we decided that some players needed minutes. It will happen naturally with time.

“Charlie’s been good. He played a practice match at Colney and he was really good.

“Again, give him time and we will prepare him.”

Arsenal saw off interest from the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham to sign Patino from Luton Town in 2015.

Should Charlie Patino be given an opportunity in the Arsenal first team soon? Have your say in the comments section below.

© JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images Mikel Arteta made 10 changes to his side to face AFC Wimbledon

And Brian Stapleton, the Gunners scout who first spotted Patino while he was playing for Luton, is full of praise for the left-footed midfielder.

“Of all the years I’ve been scouting, he’s the best kid I’ve ever seen,” Stapleton told Goal recently.

“His first touch was unbelievable, his vision, his awareness of space. He was way above his years, he was on another planet to anyone else on the pitch.”

Sean O’Connor, one of the key figures at Arsenal’s academy, has an even bigger claim.

“Sean O’Connor discovered Jack Wilshere and he said to me that Charlie is the best player who has ever walked through the doors at Hale End,” Stapleton added.

“The kid has got so much potential, but he’s not there yet.”

Patino has represented England at U15, U16 and U17 level, but Spain are trying to tempt him to commit his future to their side.

He already possesses dual nationality, thanks to his Spanish father and Cadena Ser reported recently that the Arsenal youngster is ‘marked in red’ in La Roja’s offices and efforts have already been made to convince him to switch.

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