Who is Charlie Patino? Arsenal’s ‘lovely kid’ who keeps making headlines after £10k move

Who is Charlie Patino? Arsenal’s ‘lovely kid’ who keeps making headlines after £10k move

Not for the first time, Charlie Patino was making headlines on Tuesday night after scoring on his Arsenal debut.

The 18-year-old came off the bench against Sunderland with 10 minutes to go, the fans already singing his name, and deep into injury time he cooly slotted the ball into the bottom corner to announce his arrival.

“A beautiful moment,” said Mikel Arteta. “He is a kid that is coming through our system, a lovely kid.

“The fans heard about him and know what he can become and now we have to cook him slowly. Today was a good start, I think.”

Patino had his name in lights on Tuesday, but he has been making a name for himself from a young age. Back when he was 11 he was grabbing newspaper headlines as it was revealed Arsenal had won the race to sign him from Luton Town.

Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham all wanted to sign Patino, who had wowed visiting scouts, and he went to visit all three clubs, as well as Arsenal. The youngster eventually chose to join the Gunners, partly because it was close to his home in St Albans, but also because of the club’s track record of giving young players a chance.

Arsenal paid £10,000 to sign Patino from Luton, where he had sometimes been playing three years above his age group. Even then, the midfielder was renowned for his ability to dribble round near enough all of the opposition players to score.

Playing years above his age group has been a theme of Patino’s development and he captained England’s Under-16s against Spain when he was just 14. It was a proud moment for the youngster, whose father is Spanish and grandparents live in Spain, making him eligible to play for them if he wishes.

At Arsenal, Patino has continued his trend of playing in age groups years above him and he has been on accelerated path to the first team. Tuesday was the first taste the 18-year-old got of senior level football, but those at the club are sure there is plenty more to come.

 (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

The challenge for Arsenal will be controlling the hype that will invariably grow after Patino’s debut.

Fans have already been calling for him to play, particularly after his goal against Manchester United’s Under-23s went viral earlier this season. The goal saw Patino win the ball high up the pitch, skipping past defenders - including Phil Jones - and then dinking the ball over goalkeeper Dean Henderson.

It was a delightful goal, which showcased Patino’s close control and skill, which was honed during his childhood days spent playing Futsal. The midfielder was a big advocate of the sport, playing for Escolla Futsal Club, and he has credited it with helping his technique.

Technique has always been Patino’s strong point, but the more recent aim has been to work on his strength and speed as he moves up the age groups.

Given he is so young it is not set in stone where Patino will end up playing, but he has spoken about his desire to be a No8. He likes to create and score goals, with his strike against Sunderland showing he has a knack of arriving late into the box.

Long term, however, it could be that he ends up playing deeper. Arteta likes balance in his midfield playmakers and the fact Patino is left footed makes him an ideal heir to Granit Xhaka.

Arteta has said the plan is to “cook him slowly”, but Patino is already knocking on the door. During a recent club Q&A, Martin Odegaard picked him out as the most exciting young player at the club and Jack Wilshere, who is coaching the Under-23s, has been singing his praises too.

“He’s obviously really young still and got a lot of developing to do but he’s definitely one who everyone at the training ground is talking about,” he said.

It feels like it won’t be long until everyone, not just those at Arsenal, are talking about Patino.