Every week, at least one or twice, we feature loan reports on the site and it seems that this season, our players are finding it hard to get minutes under their belts.
These detail the performances of our first-team and youth players who are out on respective loan spells across Europe. Some are currently amongst England’s various tiers, others in Germany and Spain, whilst a few are scattered across the Netherlands and Portugal too.
The season is in full flow now with teams starting to settle down, most managers have their established starting XI. With that in mind, it’s becoming increasingly tough for the majority of our players loaned out – especially the younger ones – to establish their senior credentials as they transition between youth and a more intense, competitive level.
Ryan Huddart, Julio Pleguezuelo, Tafari Moore and Dan Crowley are all talented 19-year-old players who provide quality in their respective positions. Yet, only goalkeeper Huddart has started and finished a full 90-minute match thus far this term, on two occasions in the National League (5th tier).
The loan system itself has a number of benefits and equally, flaws, but given the u23’s slow start to the new campaign, it’s hard to see how they wouldn’t have improved significantly with the aforementioned quartet in the side.
That’s without talking about our remaining players out on loan, including Jon Toral. After an excellent season last term in the Championship, Toral was expected to emerge as a first-team squad player at the very least if given the opportunity over the summer.
Instead less than two weeks into the start of July, he was loaned out to his native Spain, where he’s only made one appearance in La Liga with Granada this season. The fact that they’re languishing at the bottom of the table just adds insult to injury from Toral’s point of view, and there’s no doubt that the experience ultimately isn’t a beneficial one for the 21-year-old’s development.
Wojciech Szczesny (Roma), Takuma Asano (Stuttgart) and Jack Wilshere (Bournemouth) seem to be the only players that are genuinely benefiting from minutes away from the Emirates, in an environment where they’ve been given the chance to play their football without so much pressure from the media.
Glen Kamara (Colchester United), whose future at Arsenal seems finite, is in a similar situation as teammates in his age group. Stefan O’Connor and Kelechi Nwakali (both at Maastricht in Holland) will be far from satisfied with the lack of first-team action they’ve received, and considering they don’t speak the native language, there’s a significant barrier to communication present too.
There’s no question as to whether players are good enough to feature on a more regular basis, but it could genuinely be a case of respective managers being eager not to upset the team balance, especially with their loanee players only there for a season or less in some cases.
Words from Lucas Piazon on Chelsea’s loan system should serve as a timely reminder that continual loan spells can often hinder as opposed to help develop a player over time, something that has begun to worry me with the lack of minutes most are given on a regular basis.
Despite all the positives that come with being a footballer, the media and public often don’t appreciate that it’s a tough business and equally an unforgiving one. Players ultimately want to play and being consistently left as an unused substitute, especially when form is poor, will not do wonders for their self-esteem, which makes me wonder whether some of our current loan crop should be recalled whilst others remain.