Arsenal’s loanees aren’t playing and they aren’t developing.
A look at the number of games our young players have played out on loan this season suggests that the club have not used the system at all well.
Emi Martinez is on a season-long loan with Getafe, but has played just the one cup game at the time of writing.
Cohen Bramall, likewise, is with Birmingham for a season, and has played twice. Stephy Mavididi, a promising striker on loan at Preston, has managed eight appearances, but only two starts.
Each of these players needs consistent game time, either to develop or to make a career at the top level, but they’re not getting it.
Not every loan will work out, but one has to question how thorough Arsenal were with identifying the clubs they would entrust their young players with.
They should have known that Getafe already had an experienced first choice keeper in Vicente Guaita, and doubted that Martinez would be first choice.
A bit of poking around might have revealed Birmingham as a troubled club on the way down, and not the best environment for a youngster to play in.
They might have found that Preston already had good striking options and only ever needed Mavididi for cover.
This is in stark contrast to the likes of Chelsea, who always ensure that their loanees get regular game time.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has very little experience, but is a regular in the Premier League with Crystal Palace and now starring for England. Tammy Abraham had a good season on loan with Bristol City, and is now in the Premier League with Swansea and also getting a chance with his country.
Mason Mount, a highly promising midfielder who won the u19 European Championships with England in the summer, gets consistent game time at Vitesse in the Eredivisie. Similar cases can be found at Manchester United and Manchester City as well.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah is another regular at Palace, while Andreas Pereira features for high-flying Valencia in Spain. City’s Paolo Maffeo is another La Liga regular with Girona, while Patrick Roberts is a much valued first team player at Celtic.
Perhaps Arsenal’s talents aren’t quite as good, but even still, it does them no good to be at clubs where they aren’t rated and not playing.
Our rivals can get their best talents playing regularly for good clubs around Europe, whereas with Arsenal, it feels like complete dumb luck if a player gets more than 20 games a season.
Takuma Asano is the club’s most successful loanee currently, with 38 appearances for Stuttgart, but the odds of him featuring for Arsenal in the near future are very slim.
After him, there’s Kelechi Nwakali, a regular for struggling VVV-Venlo in the Eredivisie, and another without a work permit to play for the club. Then there’s Marc Bola, with ten appearances for Bristol Rovers in League One.
The loan system can be a very useful tool for big clubs to develop their younger players.
Jack Wilshere was a major beneficiary of it when he got regular game time at Bolton in the Premier League. Since then, though, few Arsenal youngsters have managed to play at that level.
The likes of Joe Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson might be getting regular games now, but when the opportunities thin out, they might need to go on loan themselves.
At this rate, though, you wouldn’t trust Arsenal to find them good clubs where they can get those games.