Arsenal have informed Championship clubs considering loan moves for Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock that the pair will not be available in the January window, according to reports.
Football.London write that Arsenal have ruled out exits for Willock and Nketiah, following Unai Emery’s assertion that Emile Smith Rowe would also remain with the club this month. Both Willock and Nketiah were targeted by plenty of second-tier clubs, as well as one or two in League One, but Arsenal weren’t interested.
In Nketiah’s case, this is most likely thanks to Danny Welbeck’s injury. Without the 28-year-old to play backup in the second half of the campaign, Arsenal clearly don’t want to risk losing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Alexandre Lacazette and having no one to replace them.
For Willock, the reasoning is much less clear. The youngster has made three appearances this season, and he has plenty of midfielders ahead of him.
It would take a midfield injury crisis of huge proportions to see Emery being forced to rely on the 19-year-old. Although, perhaps the head coach has just been so impressed with Willock’s recent performances that he’s planning to boost him up the pecking order a little bit.
Either way, both players need to appear more regularly in the second half of the campaign than they have so far, and it’s hard to see where they’ll get chances. The FA Cup draw put Arsenal against Manchester United, so it’s unlikely Emery will rotate too much in that one.
The Europa League tie against BATE Borisov is an opportunity to experiment, but the Arsenal coach might not want to risk it, considering the competition is probably the Gunners’ best route to next season’s Champions League. So far, Willock and Nketiah have played a combined one minute of football in the Premier League this season.
We’ll see what happens, but right now it looks like the duo are set to spend another few months with the u23s, which is a bit disappointing.