Yunus Musah has committed his future to the USMNT, despite being eligible to play for England, Ghana and Italy.
The 18-year-old made his senior debut for Valencia in September against city rivals Levante, while he scored his first La Liga goal on 1 November in the thrilling 2-2 draw with Getafe.
Los Che’s gain is Arsenal’s loss as the midfield man is a former Gunner, having spent seven years in the north London side’s youth academy before making the switch to Spain last summer.
Musah is the latest name to be added to a growing list of English starlets playing their football abroad as they seek a quicker route to first-team football, but who is the teenager sensation who ditched the Premier League?
The teenager is predominantly a central midfielder who is most comfortable and suited to a box-to-box role. His technical ability, range of passing and quick feet combined with his natural athleticism means he’s a hard man to stop for anyone he faces in the middle of the park.
Regarding his style, Musah previously said: “I’m a passer and also physical, I can run past players because I’m a bit bigger than some of them. I’m really good at passing, I can create a lot of chances and this season I’ve been trying to improve my scoring rate.”
He was asked to play on the wing during his debut at the weekend by head coach Javi Gracia but it’s not a role Musah is unfamiliar with. He’s often featured on either flank or in a more attacking central role throughout his youth academy days but it is believed he will eventually settle into his favoured position.
Musah represented England at youth level, making 22 appearances in total, scoring four goals. He last played for the Under-18s in 2019 and is considered to be one of the brightest prospects in his age group.
But the Three Lions lost the battle for the young prospect’s international allegiance. Musah was born in New York, moved to Italy at a very young age and is of Ghanaian descent. He joined the Arsenal set-up back in 2012 at the age of nine, but has ultimately decided to play for the USA.
When Musah decided to swap life at the Emirates for a chance at the Mestalla, he became the latest young English prospect to move abroad citing a clearer path to first-team football as the primary reason.
However, as most of his compatriots followed in Jadon Sancho’s footsteps and moved to the Bundesliga, Musah decided to forge his own path.
Of course, the former Arsenal midfielder isn’t the first Englishman to play in La Liga, but he is the first to ever play for Valencia. The six-time champions of Spain are one of the biggest sides outside of the Clasico clubs, but after finishing a disappointing ninth in 2019/20, they’ve embarked on a serious fire sale.
With the likes of Ferran Torres, Rodrigo Moreno, Francis Coquelin, Ezequiel Garay and Dani Parejo out the door, opportunities have opened up for promising youngsters such as Musah.
With his terrific solo effort against Getafe, Musah (aged aged 17 and 338 days) also became the youngest ever Englishman to score in La Liga and the youngest foreigner to score for Valencia.
12 months ago, Arsenal embarked upon a summer clear-out, allowing an array of academy prospects to depart for pastures new.
Xavier Amaechi moved to Hamburg for £2.25m, left-back Dominic Thompson was sold to Brentford to £3m, while Vontae Daley-Campbell joined Leicester, Charlie Gilmour signed for Norwich, Spanish defender Julio Pleguezuelo linked up with Twente and Bayli Spencer-Adams moved to Watford.
But it’s Musah’s decision to leave that looks like the one they’ll come to regret. He turned down a scholarship deal aged 16 which would have seen him sign a professional contract a year later, but wasn’t convinced by what was on offer at the Emirates. Arsenal’s lack of persuasive powers may come back to haunt them in the not too distant future.