In our weekly Scout feature, Daniel Roberts takes a detailed look at a new emerging talent from the European and British talent pool. In the latest edition he profiles Arsenal’s midfield star, Dan Crowley.
Considered as one of the brightest talents coming through the academy at Arsenal, Crowley has made a name for himself with his precise passing, midfield forward drives and dead-ball skills.
Originally starting his career at Aston Villa, the Coventry-born midfielder had already represented the Villans’ Under-16s squad before reaching his teens, and continued to progress further by making appearances for their Under-18 side at just 15.
His impressive talents were not missed, as in the summer of 2013 the youngster signed for Arsenal to continue his development.
Soon after signing professional terms with the Gunners at the age of 17, he went on to establish himself as a regular starter in their Under-21 team, making 20 appearances, scoring five. Going on to captain the youth side, he also scored an impressive hat-trick for the Under-19s during their UEFA Youth League tie away to Anderlecht.
This summer, Crowley was given his chance to experience first-team football, as he joined Arsenal’s full squad on their tour of Singapore. He made his first appearance for the first team in their 4-0 victory over the Singapore Select XI, replacing Jack Wilshere in the 64th minute.
After impressing in pre-season, Arsenal sent Crowley on loan to League One side Barnsley, where he would make his professional debut on the opening day of the season in a 3-1 loss to Chesterfield. In August, the youngster would play a crucial role in the Yorkshire club’s valiant cup exploits, giving them a 3-2 second-half lead with a well-struck shot against Everton. They would go on to narrowly miss out on causing the upset of the second round, losing 5-3 AET.
Internationally, Crowley has represented both England and Republic of Ireland youth sides, although the majority of his caps have come donning the white of the Three Lions, making 21 appearances in the Under-16, Under-17 and Under-19 youth groups.
His only international goal came for the Under-19s, scoring a magnificent solo goal in England’s 5-1 trouncing of Japan, which you can view below.
It is unclear, however, on where Crowley’s international allegiance lies, with the youngster pledging for the Irish youth set-up, before deciding to return to make further appearances for England soon after.
What the experts say
Barnsley manager Lee Johnson: “He’s probably one of the best, or the best, or most talented 18-year-olds I’ve ever seen.”
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill: “I think the young lad has really decent ability. He looks as if he wants to demand the ball as well which is great in someone so young and he looks to have a decent future.”
Where does the future lie?
Described as the next Jack Wilshere, without the injuries, it’s highly unlikely Arsenal will be willing to sell the midfielder any time soon. The Gunners are well known for turning their promising youth into world-class stars and it will be no surprise to see Crowley follow in the footsteps of Ashley Cole and Wilshere himself.
However, one thing the midfielder needs to ensure doesn’t set in is over-confidence. Barnsley manager Lee Johnson said that although Crowley’s self-assured manner was a good trait, the youngster has to make sure his ego doesn’t hamper his development.
“A lot of youngsters are shy these days,” he said. “He has come in and it’s the ‘Dan Crowley Show’. It’s important he just gets the balance between ego and confidence. Sometimes it crosses the line – both ways.
“When he’s confident and doing his job for the team, then he can certainly be an international. If the ego sets in, which it does at times, then he’s nowhere near as good.
“It’s a fine line, but he’s got real talent, a bit of genius in his boots. I suppose with those type of mavericks, that’s what you’ve got to manage. It’s up to him to mature and get the balance right.”
By Daniel Roberts, @djroberts22