The season hasn’t been a particularly positive one for a few of Arsenal’s players sent out on loan for regular minutes at a professional level.
After just a few months at Barnsley, the club recalled midfielder Dan Crowley back in October. He has since been joined by Isaac Hayden, who was struggling for playing time and Serge Gnabry now appears to be the latest player about to return thanks to Tony Pulis’ refusal to give him minutes at West Bromwich Albion.
So, what are Arsenal doing wrong? Or are these loan moves always going to be hit and miss?
Well, some players are faring well this season. Gedion Zelalem, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Jon Toral are all playing often and impressing – the experience of regular football at a good level will stand them in good stead ahead of their returns to the club.
Others – like Chuba Akpom – are maybe not quite ready for the level of football they’re being asked to play at. Akpom hasn’t had much of an influence on a strong Hull City side in the Championship this season, and looks too unrefined even for the Championship.
Yaya Sanogo is, when fit, being completely ignored at Ajax. Overall it’s a very mixed bag, and you get the impression Arsenal could be doing better with these moves. The trouble with loan players is, they are often young and not trusted. They also aren’t used as their development won’t ultimately benefit the club they’re with. If they play well they will have to be replaced eventually anyway.
So what to do?
Maybe Arsenal should look at Chelsea, who use Vitesse Arnhem in Eredivisie as a feeder club. It guarantees young players regular football at a high level, and you can keep a close eye on their progress. Aside from that, the Gunners must start sending players to clubs which suit them. An Arsenal winger was never likely to make it into Tony Pulis’ side, especially after a year out injured.
When it comes to loans in future, the Gunners should be more selective and more careful before allowing players to leave.