Arsenal lead analyst Ben Knapper has been promoted to become the club’s first Loans Manager, following the example of a number of other Premier League sides.
Training Ground Guru write that Knapper will ‘oversee the process for deciding which players should go out on loan and where’. He’ll then monitor how each loanee is doing whilst away from the club, working closely with Unai Emery, Head of Football Relations Raul Sanllehi and Academy Manager Per Mertesacker.
In recent years, Arsenal have had very mixed success with the loan system. Players like Reiss Nelson (Hoffenheim), Hector Bellerin (Watford) and Francis Coquelin (Charlton) have benefitted hugely from their spells away. However, there are far more examples of players struggling to make any progress at all.
Recently, Kelechi Nwakali and Takuma Asano are two players struggling with their loans. After joining Porto, Nwakali made one start for Porto B from September to the end of December. For four months, he didn’t even have regular football for their second team, let alone the senior side.
Asano, meanwhile, has only made 19 starts in the last two seasons of loan spells. Even when he starts, he’s almost always an early substitution, completing 90 minutes just six times since August 2017.
Then there are those who should be going out on loan this month. Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock are very unlikely to break into the Premier League starting XI right now, but they should be able to find a decent loan club easily. Either of them could immediately improve a second-tier side in need of a striker or a midfielder.
Then there’s Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Zech Medley, all of whom are getting occasional first-team chances. They have the talent to have an impact with a senior side in the final months of the season if Arsenal give them the chance.
Hopefully, this is all exactly what Knapper will work on improving in the future.
The Daily Cannon team will discuss the promotion further in our podcast, released at 3pm today (Tuesday 8th January).