The Arsenal substitutes bench for their Europa League round of 32 first-leg clash with Benfica includes a name some fans might not be too familiar with.
Mikel Arteta has named a strong starting lineup for the game at the Stadio Olimpico.
In fact, it’s the same side that started the 4-2 win over Leeds United in the Premier League last weekend with the Gunners manager clearly impressed with the attacking quartet of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Martin Odegaard, Emile Smith Rowe, and Bukayo Saka.
As a result, there are no recalls for the likes of Alexandre Lacazette, Rob Holding, Nicolas Pepe, or Eddie Nketiah.
The latter pair can, perhaps, feel hard done by having starred in the group phase, but they are included on a strong-looking bench that also includes young goalkeeper Karl Jacob Hein.
With Alex Runarsson ineligible due to not being registered for the knockout stages, Arteta has called up Hein to act as the third-choice keeper behind Bernd Leno and Mat Ryan.
Barring a crazy scenario, Hein is unlikely to make an appearance against Benfica, although this first-team experience could prove valuable for his development?
But who exactly is the wonderkid that has been named on the Arsenal bench? football.london takes a look.
Who is Karl Jacob Hein?
Karl Jacob Hein is an 18-year-old goalkeeper currently on the books at Arsenal having joined the club in the summer of 2018 from FC Nomme United – a club in his native Estonia.
Before his move to the Emirates Stadium, Hein was regarded as one of the most promising players in Estonia and was also linked with a move to Brighton and Hove Albion, as well as Serie A giants Juventus.
In addition, he once had an offer to join Manchester United, only to reject them.
“Manchester United’s offer was a shock because it’s such a big club and I admired Edwin Van der Sar and their 2008 team, whose videos I’ve watched on YouTube,” he told the Estonian FA, as per Sport Witness.
“Therefore, at first, it seemed a little bit unbelievable that I would have the opportunity to go to that club.”
How has he fared this season?
All of Hein’s appearances at club level so far this season have come for the U23’s. Seven in total in the Premier League 2 and in the EFL trophy where he conceded three in a 3-0 loss at AFC Wimbledon.
In the league, Hein has made seven appearances and kept just one clean sheet – a 6-0 win over Blackburn Rovers.
Arguably the outing he will want to forget came against Manchester City all the way back in October when he was shown a straight red card after just seven minutes.
Hein is also a full Estonia international with six caps to his name after making his debut in the UEFA Nations League game against Georgia in September.
Interestingly, this is not the first time in which Hein has made the bench for the Arsenal first-team this season.
He did so on three occasions in the Europa League group phase in both of the ties against Dundalk as well as the trip to Molde.
Hein might have made the bench for the Gunners’ 1-0 loss against Aston Villa in the Premier League earlier in the month as Arteta had a potential goalkeeping crisis on his hands, but Mat Ryan return to fitness meant the teenager wasn’t needed.
By signing up for our Arsenal newsletter, you will receive a once-daily email, focused around goings-on at Emirates Stadium.
You won’t miss a thing when it comes to the Gunners – you’ll get all you need to know directly into your inbox.
We’ll also send out special newsletters with any big breaking news too.
And with the January transfer window now open there’s plenty of content to get your teeth into.
How do you sign up?
It’s easy and only takes seconds.
Simply type your email address into the box at the top of this article – or any article on the Arsenal section of football.london in fact – labelled ‘Get the biggest daily stories by email’ and click ‘Subscribe’.
And that’s it, you’re all set.
If you decide later that you no longer wish to receive the emails, simply follow the unsubscribe link in one of the newsletters – but we don’t think you’ll want to.
For more details, click here.
What has been said about Hein?
According to Arsenal U23’s manager Steve Bould, the Gunners have a “really good keeper in the making”.
“I think he’s had a great season,” Bould told Arsenal.com last year.
“He kicks off the year and I think he gave away a couple of goals which is normal for a young kid, but he’s really matured and he looks like a really good keeper in the making.”