Arsenal youngster Catalin Cirjan has admitted that his long-term injury absence was the most difficult period of his life so far.
19-year-old midfielder Catalin Cirjan is one of the stars of the Arsenal u21 team at the moment, particularly after scoring a couple of goals in his last few games to add to his strong all-around performances.
The teenager has regularly been called up to first-team training in the last few months, culminating in four appearances on the bench in Arsenal’s six Europa League fixtures this campaign.
Yet it was a long journey to get here. After a knee injury in April 2021, Cirjan missed the entire 2021/22 campaign, finally returning to the pitch for a friendly in July 2022.
In total, it was 480 days out of action, and even after that, Cirjan had to be patient. He was only sparingly involved in August, and it took until September for him to finally make a competitive start for the youth teams.
Speaking about that time out in an interview following his goal against AS Monaco on Monday, Cirjan didn’t deny how difficult he found it.
“Yes, I had a really tough period,” Cirjan admitted. “It was the toughest period of my life so far. But I worked hard, I came back, and it’s great to play with the boys.
“I think we are a great team and I think we will get great results in the future.”
With Cirjan in the team, the Arsenal u21s are in great form.
They’re unbeaten and top in the Premier League 2, they’ve qualified for the EFL Trophy knockout stages, and they’re top of their Premier League Cup and Premier League International Cup groups.
Cirjan isn’t always the kind of player to steal the headlines, with much of his work involving linking defence and attack. But he’s always an asset to the team, with his technical security and close-control dribbling regularly getting them out of tight spots.
Arsenal will be grateful to the youngster for all his hard work in getting back fit. Now he has the chance to reap the rewards.