The theme of Arsenal's January transfer window seemed to involve shifting as many of the so-called 'deadwood' defenders from the club - and in fairness they made a pretty good job of it.
With the wage bill relieved of a number of the club's high earners, Mikel Arteta can be pleased with his work in the market, though he must now ensure the upward trajectory Arsenal have found themselves on in recent weeks continues.One man whose path to the first team setup may well have been cleared is youngster Joel Lopez. The 18-year-old has been training with the senior side this week ahead of their trip to Wolves, so with a first-team debut possibly on the cards, here's everything you need to know about the up and coming full-back.
1. Developed in the La Masia academyLopez joined Barcelona's famed La Masia youth academy at the age of the just nine and remained there until he was 16.
He followed in the footsteps of former Barça academy graduates Hector Bellerin and Cesc Fabregas - both of whom left La Masia as teenagers to move to north London - and is said to be highly rated by the Arsenal academy staff.
2. Liverpool and Barcelona were keen to sign himBarcelona were reportedly desperate for Lopez to remain with the club and made him numerous offers, while Liverpool were also credited with an interest in the teenager.
However, he eventually opted for a move to north London in 2018.
Lopez initially signed on a scholarship with the Gunners before signing a professional deal once he turned 17 in 2019. Former head of relations at Arsenal Raul Sanlleh is said to have played a huge part in convincing his countryman to move to the Emirates Stadium over the other potential suitors.
3. Style of play
Lopez is very much in the mould of Arsenal's current first-choice full-backs, renowned for his energy, drive and ability to work tirelessly down the left-hand side.
His crossing has become a feature of his play as he's developed, with his technical ability everything you'd expect of a player developed at La Masia.
He's predominantly left-footed, meaning should Kieran Tierney get injured, Arteta may look at him as a more viable option than Cedric Soares who has been asked to fill in there in recent times.
4. He's twice been named in Arsenal's Europa League squad
While the name Joel Lopez has only really come to prominence since he's been training with the senior side, diehard Arsenal fans will have been aware of the youngster for some time now.
Lopez was registered in Arteta's Europa League squad at the start of this season and former boss Unai Emery named him in his 24-man squad for the competition last season, though he's yet to make his senior debut for the club.
5. Already settled into the Arsenal Under-23 squad
Given his enormous talent, it'll come as no surprise that Lopez has spent much of his career playing with age groups above his own.
The youngster spent the majority of his early years at Arsenal with the club's Under-18 squad, though this year he's been promoted to the Under-23 side, making ten appearances for Steve Bould's side despite still being just 18 years of age.
Source : 90min