Whilst the first-team had an eventful summer window, there were a number of youngsters in our ranks who were either loaned out or sold on a permanent transfer away from the Emirates.
The big departure is 21-year-old winger, Serge Gnabry, who made his Premier League debut in the 2013/14 campaign and still has plenty of potential to fulfil after a number of troublesome injuries over the past few seasons.
He was expected to be loaned out after his exploits at the Rio Olympics with his native Germany but instead, he’s opted to join Bundesliga side Werder Bremen on a permanent five-year deal worth somewhere in the region of £5m – nowhere near the type of money we should’ve let him go for.
Takuma Asano and Kelechi Nwakali both joined the club this summer, and departed on season-long loan deals to VfB Stuttgart and MVV Maastricht respectively. Both players are attack-minded and highly rated but crucially, have been described as players very much for the future. Experiences outside of their comfort zone will help them prepare as they continue to develop over time.
Stefan O’Connor, who has struggled with injuries and consistency since making his professional debut against Galatasaray (Champions League group stages) in December two years ago, will join Nwakali at Maastricht. Meanwhile, right-back Tafari Moore is also in the Netherlands having signed a one-year loan switch to join FC Utrecht, where he’ll initially feature for their reserve side.
Goalkeeper Ryan Huddart joined National League side Eastleigh for the season whilst our highly rated creative midfielder Daniel Crowley has put pen-to-paper on a deal to play for League One’s Oxford United for the 2016/17 campaign. Julio Pleguezuelo, captain of last year’s u21 side, has joined Spanish side RCD Mallorca whilst another highly rated midfielder in 21-year-old Jon Toral has followed his compatriot’s footsteps in a loan switch to the country of his birth. On deadline day, Glen Kamara sealed a six-month switch to League Two side Colchester United.
First-team strength in depth raises questions
All in all, we’ve finalised a number of deals with a few players’ future still uncertain. Kamara turns 21 in October and doesn’t seem likely to have a long-term future at the Emirates, whilst Toral’s excellent loan spell at Birmingham last term seems to not have been adequately rewarded as he departed in the middle of July.
With fierce competition for places continuing to intensify, it’s definitely a good choice for some of the younger players to go out on-loan, especially the likes of Crowley and Pleguezuelo, both of which have proven their quality at youth level but needed to be tested at a more competitive level in preparation for first-team opportunities.
O’Connor probably cannot help but feel this could be one of his final chances to assert his first-team credentials upon the Arsenal hierarchy, especially considering the fact he turns 20 in January and his progression has stalled since the start of last year.
Krystian Bielik and Marc Bola are just two examples of players who’ve established their pedigree at youth level over the course of last season and although neither is the finished product, it’s important to note both are younger and stand in good stead for a potential senior promotion ahead of O’Connor.