This summer Arsenal have loaned out a huge number of players.

10 players have headed out of London Colney to join other clubs on a temporary basis, and it is fair to say six of them would have been members of Arsène Wenger’s first-team squad this season had they remained at the club.

There are plenty of talented young players who receive impressive coaching, as Wenger explained.

“The basic problem…here is that in our education now, from 12 to 18 coaching is very important,” said the Arsenal boss. “Afterwards from 18 to 20 the competition becomes very important for the players to feel they move forward.”

And that is where the issue lies.

Wenger has decided to let Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Chuba Akpom, Isaac Hayden, Dan Crowley, Jon Toral and Emiliano Martinez head out on loan to Championship clubs in an attempt to find some middle ground between the U21 division and the Premier League, which is now too competitive to consistently bed in young players.

“What the academy has corrected is that the training side is today better structured and better organised in all the clubs,” Wenger said. “Still a very important thing is the last phase, the integration into the first team and being confronted with top-level competition.

“That, at the moment, is a big problem because the difference between when I arrived here and today to integrate very young players into Premier League games becomes more difficult.

“The level has gone up everywhere and you have no margin [for error] anymore.”

Serge Gnabry, on loan at West Bromwich Albion, has been given the chance to prove himself in the Premier League while Wojciech Szczesny (AS Roma) and Carl Jenkinson (West Ham United) are also in major leagues and have no issue with playing at the highest level.

Down one rung on the ladder is Yaya Sanogo, who is spending the season at Ajax.

It is, however, those players in the Championship that cause the greatest concern. The Premier League is now a far better standard than anything you can prepare a young player for, so integrating them into the team to see if they can hack it is risky business.

“You have a generation of players who are lost between 18 and 20,” said the Arsenal manager. “When a guy of that age feels he doesn’t move forward he loses motivation. And I am a bit scared about that because in France they play in Division Three with their reserves so you get competition against adults.”

Germany has a similar system, as does Spain, where top flight clubs often have reserve teams in lower divisions to allow youth players competitive experience against professional sides.

“In England you have created the under-21 league. I am not a fan of it because it is not the same as playing in competitive games. In many under-21 games there is no build-up before the match, there is not the pressure of competition, there are not the results you have to stand up for.”

Hopefully sending more players on loan to the Championship than ever before will serve Arsenal well in the long run and is a strategy that can be developed.


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Usually found watching or talking about English or German football. Interested in tactics (but often despairing a lack of them). Favourite players: Bergkamp, Arteta, Özil