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Football London
Football London
Sam Hill

Arsenal talent Lino Sousa reveals Mikel Arteta conversation amid Oleksandr Zinchenko advice

Arsenal youngster Lino Sousa was signed from West Bromwich Albion in the January transfer window and has impressed since arriving at the Emirates Stadium.

Sousa's signing went under the radar due to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's departure but Gunners fans are starting to notice the exciting talent developing in Arsenal's youth setup. The youngster arrived in North London as one of the most highly rated left-backs in England and has so far done a good job of living up to that hype.

Within two months of completing his move to Arsenal after his 17th birthday, Sousa had worn the captain’s armband at Under-18s level and moved up to the Under-23s. Since then, Sousa has had dinner with Gunners boss Mikel Arteta during the pre-season tour of America, before travelling abroad with the squad at the start of this season’s Europa League campaign.

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In an interview with The Athletic, Sousa has opened up on his first year at the Emirates Stadium as he aims to break into Arteta's senior squad. The youngster said: "Everything has happened so quickly that you don’t really have time to think about it.

"Only when you get a break is when you get a chance to think about how far you’ve come and how much you’ve achieved in such a short amount of time. There were always going to be a few learning curves coming from West Brom to Arsenal.

"It’s a big step up. But to be the best player (you can be), you’ve got to be around the best. Training with the first team helps as well."

Sousa is keen to follow the example set by the likes of Oleksandr Zinchenko, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Kieran Tierney who now all have the ability to play as inverted full-backs under Arteta. Sousa added: "Positionally, I never came inside at West Brom, so it was new when I came here and I’m still learning.

"If you do it in training, you feel more comfortable in games because essentially, you’re seeing the same pictures. I focus on my body shape, angles and scanning to know what’s around me.

"I have conversations with Mehmet (Ali, head coach of Arsenal Under-21s) where he tells me his demands and we’ll meet eye-to-eye. I will tell him what I’m more comfortable doing but I know for my personal development, when you go into a first-team environment, they might play a whole different style of football.

"I speak to Zinny (Zinchenko) as well. Both him and Tierney are really nice and helpful in training. It’s what Mikel wants, so whatever the first team do, we try to mirror it to prepare ourselves to make the big step up. Just having that diversity and variety, whether I’m out wide or play centrally, it’s good for me."

Sousa was an unexpected member of the Gunners' pre-season touring party to Germany, and revealed what goes on behind the scenes that impressed him.

"People just see them play on matchdays, they don’t see them train," Sousa added. "But to just be in and around it, see how they interact and how everyone is together, was really nice. Everyone gets brought in, no one gets left out in the first team and you can’t hide away either.

“Even off the pitch. Sometimes, for dinner and lunch, we got put into tables and they’ll make the seating plan. One of the times, I sat with Mikel (Arteta), Albert (Stuivenberg, the assistant manager), Mo Elneny and Rob Holding, and you have to socialise.

"It’s good, because you get to know more about them. They mainly talked about my age, how I’m so young and about when I left school."

Have your say on the Gunners’ season so far by taking part in the Big Arsenal Forum!


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