Kenyan lad the next big thing at Arsenal academy

Thursday, May 20th, 2021 00:00 |

Noah Cheploen @cheploennoah

Hailed as the next big thing in football, 10-year-old Leo Messo grabbed the attention of football fans across the globe after he was signed by revered Hale End-based Arsenal Academy two days ago.

A Kenyan citizen, Messo joins the Arsenal Academy on scholarship contract from West Ham, he was received by Arsenal Youth Academy Manager Per Mertesacker—a former Arsenal captain and World Cup winner.

“Arsenal has signed 10-year-old wonder kid Leo Messo, presenting him with a special FIFA card upon his arrival,” wrote the  British tabloid, The Sun.

A picture of the young forward posing with club legend Per Mertesacker went viral with football fans encouraging him to follow in the footsteps of multiple World Player of the Year Lionel Messi.

“And Arsenal had it specially made so that all his attributes were 99,” wrote the mass selling tabloid.

Similar names

The fact that his name also resembles that of Messi got fans talking.

Messo is welcomed by the head of the youth academy and Arsenal great Per Mertersacker. Photro/Courtesy

The move coincided with his father’s (Benson Messo) birthday who described it on his Facebook page as the biggest feeling ever.

He also shared a short video of him and his son being taken around the Academy offices by staff before being welcomed by coaches in the training pitch.

Benson hails from Siaya but lives in London, UK with his family. A facebooker by the name Onyinkwa Onyankudi said Messo was a talented rugby player and captain during their days at Cardinal Otunga High School, Mosocho.

The young Messo now joins a long star-studded list of big names who graduated from the Arsenal academy to take the football world by storm.

Some of the big names, who have graduated from the academy in the recent past  include midfielders Jack Wilshere, Cesc Fabregas, Serge Gnabry, Alex Iwobi, Joe Willock, Eddy Nketiah, Maintland –Niles, Folarin Bolagun and Juventus first-choice goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

 The day, however, coincided with the depressing news that newly-promoted English Premier League side Watford had parted ways with Kenyan midfielder, Henry Ochieng among twelve other youth players.

 The Kenyan was announced by Watford back in January having been signed from Cork City Football club in Ireland.

The 13 players who were axed by the newly promoted EPL side included Ochieng, Mac Chisholm, Thomas Horsewood, Max Thompson, Phoenix Patterson, Bayli Spencer-Adams, Maxwell Statham, Mason Barrett, Sam Dalby, Harry Forster, Teddy Perkins, Toby Stevenson, Mitchel Bergkamp.

“All at Watford FC wish the best of luck to these departing youth players in their future careers,” read the statement from Watford.

Born to Kenyan parents in London, Ochieng made his debut for Kenya U-23 against Mauritius on November 14, 2018.

This was in the 2019 Africa U-23 Cup of Nations qualification where he came on as a substitute.

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