Since Arsène Wenger’s time as manager, Arsenal have been renowned for nurturing some of the best young talents in world football and giving them the chance to perform on the biggest stage.

LONDON, ENGLAND : Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal reacts during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium on October 18, 2021. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND: Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal reacts during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium on October 18, 2021. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Loan spells are vital to a player’s development to this end and the Gunners currently have 19 plying their trade elsewhere for the 2021/22 season. Which ones are most likely to make a breakthrough to the first team?

William Saliba has arguably been the best loan performer this season after excelling during his time at Marseille.

The 20-year-old defender has made 26 appearances in Ligue 1 and has made such an impression that Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is reportedly eager to open talks about a new, lucrative long-term contract.

Saliba joined the club for £27m from St. Etienne nearly three years ago but is yet to make a first-team appearance. That looks set to change from this summer.

Arteta recently said it was “difficult to explain” why he had sent out Saliba on loan for a third season, but that he is certainly a “long-term player for us”. He added: “He’s very happy to go there now. Hopefully, he can enjoy his football and be ready for us for next season.”

While there doesn’t appear to be any other loan player ready to slot straight into Arteta’s first team, a number of youngsters have served their loan clubs with distinction in recent months.

Reiss Nelson, who made his debut for the Gunners way back in 2017, provided his first assist for Feyenoord in November but has generally lacked the cutting edge as a winger and that will make Arteta sit up and take notice.

Folarin Balogun also recently opened his account for Middlesbrough, scoring the only goal in a 4-1 defeat against Sheffield United.

Folarin Balogun celebrating a goal for Middlesbrough (Photo via Middlesbrough on Instagram)
Folarin Balogun celebrating a goal for Middlesbrough (Photo via Middlesbrough on Instagram)

The 20-year-old has made ten appearances for the Championship side and is still highly rated by the club. Balogun did feature twice for Arsenal in the Premier League this season with his debut coming in the limp 2-0 loss to Brentford back in August. The Gunners have improved since then and are more likely to be a top tip in the latest football betting stories, which take a look at upcoming matches in the top flight.

Meanwhile, Greek defender Konstantinos Mavropanos has impressed during his second loan spell at VfB Stuttgart where he has scored four goals this season in 22 appearances. The 24-year-old is in demand with West Ham, Newcastle United and Borussia Dortmund reportedly among those looking to secure his signature.

Three loan players that are performing admirably but are also on the out are Héctor Bellerín, Mattéo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira, who have each already made at least 80 appearances for Arsenal’s first team.

Bellerin has recorded four assists in 26 appearances for Real Betis in La Liga, while Gundouzi and Torreira have featured prominently for Marseille and Fiorentina, respectively.

Arsenal also has a crop of youth players out on loan in the Football League, which include Jordi Osei-Tutu at Nottingham Forest and Daniel Ballard at Millwall. For next season, it only looks like Saliba will make the step up, but other players could still stake a claim during the final months of the 2021/22 campaign.

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