ARSENAL made just the one signing during the 2017 January transfer window and it only cost them £40,000.
The man the Gunners brought in was Cohen Bramall. A defender who had never played professional football but was a regular for non-league Hednesford Town.
His first six months with Arsenal consisted of several impressive performances for the club’s Under-23 side.
However, he has been taken on the club’s pre-season tours of Australia and the Far East and our friends at Football Whispers have profiled the 21-year-old left-back.
Who is Cohan Bramall and where does he come from?
From a young age Bramall’s athletic prowess was recognised. His pace stood out to many and, as a result, he ran for Crewe and Nantwich Athletics Club in the 100m and 200m and even reached national finals for Cheshire.
However, Bramall, like many a gifted young boy, pursued a career in football. He played for several sides in the north west, including Kidsgrove Athletic, Alsager Town and Nantwich Town.
But it was a spell with Newcastle Town during the 2014/15 campaign that was crucial for Bramall. It helped him develop a reputation as a burgeoning local talent and he subsequently moved on to Market Drayton Town before joining Hednesford in the summer of 2016.
Bramall may have been improving but football wasn’t how he paid the bills. He juggled his playing career alongside working in a factory for Bentley Motors.
It was a world away from the glitz and glamour of the Premier League.
It was at Hednesford, who play in the seventh tier of English football, that Bramall truly flourished.
He started 25 games for the club during the first half of the 2016/17 campaign and impressed watching scouts – one rabona assist which went viral particularly stood out.
Bramall went on trial with Crystal Palace and played in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Brentford. However, following another short stint with the club, he wasn’t offered a contract.
Another trial with Sheffield Wednesday followed and he played for the club’s Under-23 side in a friendly. The following day Bramall was made redundant from his day job fitting radiators for Bentley.
Fate, or fortune, then intervened. Bramall was offered a trial with Shrewsbury Town before the Gunners came calling. He was offered a two-day trial and was thrown in with the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Petr Cech.
“I got thrown in the deep end and I had to take everything under control,” he told Sky Sports.
“I tried to think I’m playing with normal players. But I was playing with some of the best players in the world.”
Bramall clearly impressed the watching Wenger and a month after his trial, the young full-back was signed. Arsenal paid Hednesford a minimal fee and the then 20-year-old signed a two-and-a-half year contract.
“He’s got the strength, he’s very quick and runs with the ball naturally – he’s a dream player,” his manager at Hednesford, Paul Casey, told the Express and Star.
“He’s got it all and the better pitches will suit him. It boosts the club’s profile and shows what talent there is at this level.”
Bramall joined up with Arsenal’s Under-23 side and would make nine Premier League 2 appearances during the remainder of the campaign. He would score once and add three assists.
His strong end to the season impressed Arsenal’s coaching staff to the extent that he was included in their pre-season tours of Australia and China.
Bramall would make his unofficial Gunners debut in front of 80,000 fans in a 2-0 win over Sydney FC. What a difference a year makes.
How much would he cost?
Given he has only spent a little over six months as a professional footballer it’s unlikely Arsenal would demand an exorbitant fee if any club did wish to try and prise the left-back away.
But he is still developing and learning from several of the country’s top coaches, so even if Arsenal were willing to let Bramall depart it’s unlikely the defender would accept a permanent move away from the Emirates just yet.
Where is his most likely destination this summer?
Despite being taken on the club’s pre-season tours, it’s unlikely Bramall will be a member of the Arsenal first-team squad for the 2017/18 Premier League campaign. He will, and should, continue to train and hone his craft for at least another six months in the Under-23s.
If Arsenal’s coaching staff then believe Bramall is ready for first-team exposure then a Football League loan move would suit.
He needs to be tested at professional level and a spell in League One or the Championship would give the player and the Gunners coaching staff a better indication if he will be ready for the Premier League.
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