From the Cayman Islands to Premier League, via Suffolk - ex-Town prodigy making waves at Arsenal
- Credit: Archant
Former Ipswich Town prodigy Marcelo Flores is making waves at Premier League Arsenal, having been promoted to the first team set-up by boss Mikel Arteta.
Canadian midfielder Flores, 17, joined the Gunners as a scholar in 2019, having initially been brought to the UK by Town back in 2017.
Academy coach Steve Foley discovered Flores through a chance meeting with his father Ruben in the Cayman Islands, where Flores senior was coaching.
And Marcelo and his family duly relocated to Suffolk, with Flores attending Kesgrave High School, before the Gunners came calling two years later. Neither side disclosed the financial agreement reached.
Flores went on to sign his first pro contract at Arsenal last October, and has impressed so much with the Gunners' youth sides that he was called up to train with the first team squad last week by Arteta.
Although he didn't make the squad for their season-ending clash with Brighton, the future certainly appears to be bright for the teenager.
Flores, whose father was a pro in Mexico, has played more than 20 games for Arsenal's under 18's this season, plus made his first start for their U23 side.
Speaking to the EADT back in 2017, the teenager said: "One of my ambitions is to play professionally in the Premier League, but I would also like to play world-wide, in La Liga.
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"My favourite players are Messi and Hazard - I try to model my game on them both."
Foley told us: "He stuck out like a sore thumb, he reminded me of a young Craig Bellamy. I thought 'wow, who is this kid?'
"He made a big impression but the only way we were going to know if he was as good as he seemed, no disrespect to football in the Cayman Islands and Canada - they're ok but I thought Marcelo was better - was for him to come and train with the Ipswich Academy."
Of course, Flores isn't the only Portman Road youth product currently trying to make it in the Premier League - attacking midfielder Ben Knight is on the same path at Manchester City.
Knight, who joined City from Town for £1m as a 16-year-old in 2018, is a member of City's Elite Development Squad.
He played for City's U21 side in the EFL Trophy last season, starting all four games before they were knocked out by Tranmere in the second round.
Knight, now 18, scored twice in City's 4-0 win at Scunthorpe in the group stages.