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Loan Arranger Arsenal Loanees Full Progress Report

By Matty Sadler
July 14 2017

Every year a number of players make temporary exits, many of which lead to permanent exits. Some are playing for their careers, Arsenal or otherwise, while others are simply youngsters getting their first taste of senior football, and others are just biding time until they can get a work permit. I’ll briefly sum up the loan move, give my own personal recommendation, and predict what I think will actually happen.

Wojciech Szczesny was set to be our first choice goalkeeper for the foreseeable future, but a combination of unprofessional conduct and sketchy performances, plus rumours of the top brass being disappointed in his development (or lack thereof), saw him drop down the pecking order. He spent the 2015-16 season on loan to Italian side Roma, where he was sound, if unspectacular, but did enough to be asked back the following season. 2016-17 looks to have been a turning point for Woj.

 Appearing to have a much more mature head on his shoulders, he featured in all 38 of Roma’s Serie A games, keeping an impressive 14 clean sheets along the way, and was consistently ranked as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe’s top five leagues by Squawka. I only saw him play once or twice, but I did witness him conceding a penalty against AC Milan and then impressively saving it. If it were down to me, I’d acknowledge how much it would cost us to sign a goalkeeper who’d just had the sort of season that Woj had, had, plus the fact that, as anyone who follows him on social media will know, he clearly loves the club (or at least hates Spurs), negotiate a new contract and bring him back to compete with Cech. Unfortunately, though, he has been left out of our pre-season tour squad and looks set to leave, with Juventus being heavily linked.

Injuries have wrecked Jack Wilshere’s career so far, and saw him slip to sixth in our central midfield pecking order. Desperately needing game time and a change of scenery, he made a surprising, somewhat high profile temporary move to fellow Premier League side Bournemouth. After a slow start where they built up his fitness, he found himself playing regularly in a role similar to the one Mesut Ozil plays for us. I watched Wilshere for Bournemouth quite a bit and, although his end product was actually pretty unimpressive, he was often heavily involved in the build-up of moves, “Tomas Rosicky-style”. He drifted out of favour a bit around February/ March time with Bournemouth struggling, before, same old story, another injury cruely cut his season short. Despite a disappointing end, he still completed the full 90 in 15 league games, and made 29 appearances in total, which, if nothing else, is an improvement. With his contract up at the end of next season and his injury problems showing little signs of improvement, Wilshere’s situation really isn’t great, but I’d still look to give him another chance, which I think will be the case.

Calum Chambers made a strong start to life at Arsenal, even breaking into the England squad, before dropping out of favour after some iffy performances. Lacking a defined role in the squad, he was very much “the other guy”, and found game time hard to come by. In dire need of first team football, he joined Premier League new boys Middlesbrough on loan. I was able to watch Chambers more than any of our other loan players, as he started regularly all season, bar a short spell out injured, and was comfortably one of their better performers. Testament to his versatility, I saw Chambers play as a right-sided centre back in a back four and a back three, as well as right back in a four. Middlesbrough struggled, however, and were relegated in the end, but that was because of a lack of goals, not due to any defensive frailties (conceded less goals than any of the other bottom ten sides, but were the league’s lowest scorers overall). I still like Chambers a lot, and I think given his home grown status, potential and versatility (plus the fact we invested £16 million in him!), we shouldn’t give up on him just yet. I am confident he can become a useful player for us, every bit as good as Rob Holding, but I wouldn’t be against him spending another season out on loan.

Joel Campbell impressed at times for us during the 2015-16 season, but his lack of home grown status probably put him at a disadvantage against the likes of Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain, despite his superior work rate, vision and quality on the ball, and once Iwobi broke through he was always going to be the one to miss out. He continued his globetrotting adventures by joining Portuguese side Sporting for the season in a move which, if nothing else, could provide him with a great chance to put himself in the shop window. He got off to a decent start and really came into his own midway through, as he weighed in with a number of goals and assists. However, he dropped out of favour after Christmas and featured sparingly thereafter. Although he started well, this turned out to be a disappointing loan move in the end. I like Campbell and know he could be a useful player given the chance to find some consistency, but we’re so well stocked in the positions he plays, and I’ve never been convinced by his fitness levels, so now that he has been left without a squad number, I feel his departure is all but confirmed.

New signings Kelechi Nwakali and Takuma Asano, unable to secure work permits, joined Dutch second tier side MVV Maastricht and German second tier side Stuttgart respectively. Although I didn’t see Nwakali play first hand, it seemed every week I was seeing highlights of his brilliance online. He played regularly all season as an attacking midfielder and showcased bags of creativity, flair and skill, contributing 3 goals and 4 assists, as Maastricht just missed out on promotion. Asano also played regularly all season, mostly popping up on either wing and as an attacking midfielder, as Stuttgart won promotion back to the top flight at the first attempt. I’m not really able to truly judge the two of them, given the standard they’ve been playing at, but I think Nwakali certainly looks an interesting prospect. Having failed to earn a work permit, Asano has already agreed to rejoin Stuttgart next season, so I’m looking forward to seeing how he does at a higher level. As far as I know, Nwakali hasn’t earned a work permit yet either, so I’d like to see him go out on loan to a club at a higher level somewhere as well.

Jon Toral and Daniel Crowley both experienced similarly frustrating starts out on loan, before returning and going elsewhere. Toral, last season’s undisputed top loan performer, returned to Spain with La Liga side Granada. However, he featured sparingly as he struggled with form and fitness, and was recalled by us in January, before going out on loan again with Scottish side Rangers. After a slow start where he built up his fitness again, he finished the season strongly, playing in a deeper central midfield role than he is used to. Much like last season, Dan Crowley worryingly saw a loan move to a League One side, this time Oxford United, not work out amidst more rumours about his conduct and lack of professionalism. Oxford sent him back early so we sent him out to Dutch top flight side Go Ahead Eagles. Although the struggling side finished rock bottom, Crowley was one of their better players and put in some encouraging performances in attacking midfield. Although he is clearly a talented player, Jon Toral is 22 and has never got anywhere near our first team. I expect him to leave permanently, though I wouldn’t be surprised if he went out on loan again. Prior to Wednesday, I’d have said that Crowley still has time on his side at 20, but really needs to start delivering, and that I expect him to go out on loan again. However, he has since joining Willem II permanently. I am disappointed that he leaves having never made a senior competitive appearance for the club, given his form at youth level.

Tafari Moore spent the season with Dutch side Utrecht, featuring once for their first team, but playing regularly for their second string in the second tier. I’d like to see how he does out on loan at a higher level. Stefan O’Connor joined Nwakali at Maastricht but failed to make an impact and was bought back early. He has since been released and joined Newcastle. U21 Captain Julio Pleguezuelo spent the season on loan to Spanish second tier side Mallorca. Although it was a largely frustrating spell, where he was often left out, he finished strongly by playing the whole of their final 9 games. I’d like to see how he does out on loan again, but again, I wouldn’t be surprised if he left permanently. Glen Kamara failed to make an impact during his five month loan to League Two side Colchester and returned to the club following its expiry. He will now depart permanently, and has recently been on trial with Dundee. Ryan Huddart joined Conference side Eastleigh for the season but didn’t play much and was recalled early. I expect him to go out on loan again, but we have a number of talented young goalkeepers, so I’m having difficulty picturing him making it here.

January saw a number of players make temporary moves. In terms of youngsters on the fringes of the first team, Chuba Akpom and Krystian Bielik joined Championship sides Brighton and Birmingham respectively, and Gedion Zelalem joined Dutch second tier side VVV-Venlo. Although the season ended in another promotion to the Premier League for Akpom, yet again he really failed to impact the first team. His excellent record, both for Arsenal and England, at youth level (plus for the first team in pre-season) has failed to translate into senior competitive games. Unfortunately I now expect him to depart permanently. Bielik made a positive impact as he helped struggling Birmingham stay up. I saw him come off the bench against Wolves to help the 10 men defend a lead, and thought he was brilliant. I’d like to see him go out on loan again for regular games, but he could stay to support the first team and feature in the Europa League. Zelalem only made 1 start and a handful of substitute appearances for VVV-Venlo, but he helped them to the Dutch second division title, and scored his first senior goal along the way. Despite being billed as “the next Fabregas” after signing for us, Zelalem has only drifted further and further away from our first team since, and goes into the final year of his contract set to miss up to nine months with an ACL injury, so it doesn’t look good for him. Hopefully he can get back on track.

Ismael Bennacer impressed after joining French second tier side Tours on loan, and earned a call-up to the Algeria national team. I like the look of Bennacer (good mix of technique, flair and nastiness), so I’m interested so see how he does out on loan again, hopefully at a higher level. Stephy Mavididi impressed for League One side Charlton before injury cut his loan spell short. I hope he goes out on loan again when he returns to fitness. Matt Macey impressed briefly with League Two side Luton before being recalled because of goalkeeping injury crisis. As we have at least three goalkeepers ahead of him, I’d like to see him go out on loan again. Marc Bola and Kaylen Hinds impressed for League Two sides Notts County and Stevenage respectively, with Hinds having since joined Wolfsburg in a surprising £2 million move. I’ve been impressed by Bola whenever I’ve seen him, but unfortunately I think he is going to miss out as we prioritise “Project Non-League” (Cohen Bramall). Versatile right-sided player Aaron Eyoma joined Dutch second tier side Volendam but only featured for their second string side in the Dutch four tier, so it is hard to see him making it here.

So there you have it. “Top performer” awards go to Szczesny, Chambers and Nwakali, while the rest are a bit of a mixed bag, with a number of them already on their way out.


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Loan Arranger Arsenal Loanees Full Progress Report
Arsenal Times (IP Logged)
14/07/2017 07:02
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2017:07:24:13:24:47 by Padre Pio.

Re: Loan Arranger Arsenal Loanees Full Progress Report
Boston Gooner (IP Logged)
14/07/2017 08:04
just read that Joel Campbell has suffered a serious knee injury during the Gold Cup, and the Arsenal man could be out of action for as long as 6 months.

Going to be hard to shift him if true.

Re: Loan Arranger Arsenal Loanees Full Progress Report
CazOnARola (IP Logged)
14/07/2017 17:21
Great report matty. So much effort put in to compile this. Keep em coming.

Re: Loan Arranger Arsenal Loanees Full Progress Report
Padre Pio (IP Logged)
14/07/2017 19:17
Great report matty. So much effort put in to compile this. Keep em coming.


- until Wenger moves on, they'll always be the also-rans in the major competitions. A club in elite purgatory. Always good enough to make it to the big race, never fast or smart enough to push over the finish line in first place. That's all about the manager. Until he changes, Arsenal fans will continue to celebrate glorious failure.

Re: Loan Arranger Arsenal Loanees Full Progress Report
tigerline (IP Logged)
14/07/2017 23:42
Matty, as always, thank you for the effort ... and the perseverance despite the ancient albatross upon our necks.

Yes. I still care, Dammit.
I cannot help myself.

Re: Loan Arranger Arsenal Loanees Full Progress Report
MattySadler (IP Logged)
15/07/2017 07:57
Boston Gooner
just read that Joel Campbell has suffered a serious knee injury during the Gold Cup, and the Arsenal man could be out of action for as long as 6 months.

Going to be hard to shift him if true.

Yes saw this recently, real shame.

Cheers lads!

Marc Bola has joined League One side Bristol Rovers on a season-long loan. Paves the way for Cohen Bramall to be first choice at U23 level and be the one supporting the first team.

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