Francis Coquelin is no stranger to being out on loan but the defensive midfielder doesn’t feel as if one of his loan spells was particularly helpful.
After spending a season at Lorient and then a couple of seasons on the fringes at Arsenal, the 23-year-old was loaned out to German club Freiburg – managed by Christian Streich – for the entire 2013/14 season. However, he found the period difficult. “I didn’t get on with the manager, I was played out of position all season, left wing or right wing,” he recalls.
As we all know, loans are designed to get crucial playing time for a player who may not be able to break into their permanent team’s starting 11. The fact that Coquelin wasn’t getting this was obviously a tough pill for him to swallow.
He goes on to explain the frustration he felt at not being played regularly.
“I went many times to his office and said: ‘You know what? I am not asking a lot, I am just asking give me one game in the middle of the park, so you can see what I can do. Then if you are not happy with me, play someone else in that position.’ He never gave me that opportunity.”
He continued, “We played friendly games and I was always a sub. The last game of the friendlies they were losing 5-0 at half-time against a German second division club. I came on, we scored, and lost 5-1. We had a meeting after, the whole group, and he didn’t say a word about the team who were losing 5-0, it was all about me. I went to see him and asked to go back to Arsenal. He said: ‘No, we are counting on you.’ Then I played zero games.”
Admirably, instead of allowing the situation to dampen his spirits, he allowed it to spark them.
“Mentally it was tough. Then one day I woke up and realised: ‘OK, I am not going to play. Now I am training to be ready for next season at Arsenal.’”
Keeping his head high clearly paid off as now I have no doubt that the youngster is probably one of the first names on the Arsenal team sheet.