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Future For Arsenal Stranded Senior Juniors Not Gone On Loan

By Matty Sadler
February 1 2019

With the January transfer window now closed, a number of  our "more senior" youngsters have found themselves stranded at the club when a loan move would (probably) have been more beneficial. What could the future hold for these youngsters?




Cohen Bramall

20 year old Cohen Bramall was a surprise January 2017 signing from non-league Hednesford Town following a trial. The left back stood out immediately because of his physical prowess, boasting incredible pace (able run 100m in an impressive 10.9 seconds), and his attacking potential. I watched his debut for our U23s against Southampton in a 3-1 win. Although I wouldn't judge a player after just one viewing, I found he struggled defensively but looked good going forward. He played regularly for our U23s for the rest of the season.


He joined up with the first team for our 2017-18 pre-season campaign, which gave us a better chance to take a look at him. Unfortunately I found things were much the same; excellent runner, but that was about it. In August 2017 he joined Championship side Birmingham on loan and spent the whole season there, but was limited to just 8 League and Cup appearances.


This season Bramall has found himself on the fringes of the U23s, with manager Freddie Ljungberg preferring to give other players the minutes. Now 22, and with his contract up at the end of the season, it’s safe to assume his future will lie elsewhere. A low-risk gamble that hasn't come off, hopefully he’ll still be able to forge a good career for himself in the lower leagues.


Gedion Zelalem

 It seems a long time ago now but Gedion Zelalem was once viewed as one of our best prospects. After starring in our 2013 pre-season tour as a 16 year old, with his slight frame and excellent passing range, he found himself compared to a young Cesc Fabregas. He was even named among the substitutes for two league games at the start of the 2013-14 season, and had he came on he would've broken Cesc's record and became our youngest ever player. It wasn't to be and an injury meant he didn't actually make his professional debut until an FA Cup tie in January 2014, where he became our youngest ever FA Cup player. While he played regularly for our second string, his second senior appearance wouldn't come until the following season, December 2014, in the Champions League against Galatasaray.

 Zelalem spent the following season on loan to then-Scottish Championship side Rangers. Whilst he was often guilty of a lack of end product, he played regularly, making 28 appearances, helping them to the Scottish Championship title and Scottish Challenge Cup along the way, as well as a Scottish Cup final. The thing to do here would've been to continue his exposure to first team football. Instead, he returned to us the following season and played for our U23s, making two League Cup appearances, before going out on loan to second tier Dutch side VVV-Venlo. He made 9 appearances, scoring his first senior goal and helping them to the Dutch second division title.

 Unfortunately he suffered a ACL injury in May 2017 playing for the USA U20s and missed the entire 2017-18 season. After a number of setbacks he finally made his comeback for our U23s in November 2018 this season, after a 17 month absence. Now 22, he finds himself in the last year of his Arsenal contract, on the fringes of our second string and now route to the first team in sight. He is currently being linked with a return to America with Sporting KC. Another sad case of injury woe and unfulfilled potential.

 Julio Pleguezuelo

 In July 2013 Juli Pleguezuelo followed in the footsteps of Cesc Fabregas, Fran Merida, Ignasi Miquel, Jon Toral and Hector Bellerin by joining us from Barcelona as a youngster. Not the tallest centre half, but very comfortable on the ball and able to play right back as well as, his time here was disrupted by injury early on. He established himself as our U23 captain in the 2015-16 season, forming a successful defensive partnership with Krystian Bielik, and has remained one of our most consistent players at that level ever since.

 He spent the 2016-17 season on loan to Spanish second tier side Mallorca. The first half of his loan move saw him in and out of an inconsistent side, but he started their last 9 games at centre half, helping them to 3 wins, 4 draws and 3 clean sheets as they were relegated. Last season he returned to captaining our U23s, before returning to the Spanish second tier with Gimnastic in January 2018. His loan was disrupted by two month injury absence, but aside from that he played regularly.

 This season has seen the now-22 year old return to captaining our U23s, where he has been able to show off his versatility, playing all across the defence. He also finally made his debut, playing the full 90 minutes of a League Cup victory over Blackpool. Coming towards the end of his contract, it was reported that a January loan move was blocked by Unai Emery because of our first team defensive injury problems. Unless he gets some first team games, which doesn't seem likely, he'll probably depart at the end of the season. A shame he's never been given the chance to make the step up here, as he's certainly deserved it.

 Ben Sheaf

 Versatile midfielder Ben Sheaf, able to play centrally, defensively, further forward or on the right, originally joined Arsenal from West Ham in July 2014. He was noted for his technical quality, passing range and excellent set piece delivery. He showed off his versatility for our U23s, featuring regularly in a number of midfield roles, as well as at right back. His form was rewarded with a place on the bench for our infamous League Cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday during the 2015-16 season.

 Much like Krystian Bielik the season before, at the start of 2016-17 he found himself switched to centre back, where his quality on the ball, ability to win the ball back and reading of the game meant he excelled. Again, his form meant he was rewarded with a place on the bench in two League Cup ties. The following season saw him make his senior debut, coming off the bench to replace Francis Coquelin against Red Star Belgrade in the Europa League. He was an unused substitute in a further 3 Europa League ties before coming on as a late substitute in the League Cup against former club West Ham. At the end of January he joined League Two side Stevenage on loan for the rest of the season, but was cruelly struck with injury in his second training session with the club. He eventually returned and finished the season strongly, mostly playing in midfield but also in defence.

 He was hoping to go out on loan again this season but injury meant he missed the start of the season, meaning he would have to wait until January for another move. He has since returned from injury and featured for our second string. Unfortunately it appears our first team defensive injury problems have meant we’ve hung onto him. Sheaf is a talented, versatile player who was highly regarded by Arsene Wenger. He could still have a future here but it is hard to see where the 20 year old will get a chance.

 Jordi Osei-Tutu

 The youngest player on this list, Jordi Osei-Tutu moved to Arsenal from Reading in the summer of 2015 as part of our youth recruitment drive. Although used as a right winger for Reading, upon signing for us he saw himself turned into an attacking right back, able to play anywhere down the right as well as at left back.

 Not unusually for an Arsenal full back, and understandable given he is a winger converted to full back, his best attributes were his pace, power and attacking capability, but he initially struggled defensively for our youth sides, but over time improved in that sense. Last season, not only did he establish himself as first choice for our U23s, but he found himself among the first team substitutes twice in the Europa League, once in the League Cup, once in the FA Cup and twice in the League, though he is yet to make his senior debut. With a lack of cover for Hector Bellerin in the first team, it looked as though there may be a genuine chance for him.

 Throughout this season we have been hit by injuries right across our backline. I’m certain we would’ve seen more of Osei-Tutu already this season, had he not been injured himself. He returned from injury for our U23s at the end of November, but was sent off during his comeback and banned for three games. With Bellerin out injured, Lichtsteiner well past his best, Jenkinson out of favour and a lack of concrete alternatives, Osei-Tutu could still have a chance this season.


-I think it’s safe to say that Bramall and Zelalem have no future here beyond this season, while it doesn’t look good for Pleguezuelo, but with a bit of luck he could still be given a chance. Sheaf  and Osei-Tutu, on the other hand, are young, versatile and able to play in positions where we are currently short, but without first team games they aren’t going to progress.

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Future For Arsenal Stranded Senior Juniors Not Gone On Loan
Discussion started by Arsenal Times , 01/02/2019 19:32
Arsenal Times
01/02/2019 19:32
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2019:02:03:19:12:16 by Padre Pio.

Padre Pio
02/02/2019 22:13
Great update, thanks Matt. I am surprised about Cohen Bramall, he was supposed to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Perhaps came from too low a level

- 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.

03/02/2019 00:22
Understand Ljungberg spoke to Emery about extending Pleguezuelo contract?

Perhaps against BATE he will be given another run out?

'The more things change, the more they remain the same' Alphonse Karr.

03/02/2019 00:32
Padre Pio
Great update, thanks Matt. I am surprised about Cohen Bramall, he was supposed to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Perhaps came from too low a level

Bramall was a Wenger prospect just like Sanogo and Bielek. Another one that didn't work out.

03/02/2019 09:09
Padre Pio
Great update, thanks Matt. I am surprised about Cohen Bramall, he was supposed to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Perhaps came from too low a level

Came from Brian McDermott's recommendation if I remember right.

I honestly think he was just signed because of how fast he was. Would've been a miracle for a non-league player to step up to the Premier League.

Understand Ljungberg spoke to Emery about extending Pleguezuelo contract?
Perhaps against BATE he will be given another run out?

Where did you hear this? He was in first team training ahead of today's game. If I was him at 22 I'd want to leave on a free and go somewhere where I'd play every week.

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